Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Kenya: High Court Orders Government to Compensate Torture Victims

(July 26, 2010) On July 21, 2010, Kenya’s High Court awarded 21 individuals KES40 million (about US$490,496), to be paid by the Kenyan government as compensation for torture they suffered at the hands of state security officers during the Daniel Arap Moi regime (1978-2002). (Kenya Torture Victims Hail Court Ruling, KENYA BROADCASTING CORPORATION (July 22, 2010), The torture occurred between 1987 and 1997 after the victims’ arrest for alleged treasonous activities and membership in a secret society, charges that were later dropped. Amos Wako, Kenya’s Attorney General, vowed to appeal the High Court decision. (Maureen Ngesa, Kenya Torture Victims Compensated, DAILY NATION (July 22, 2010),

The plaintiffs claimed that during their detention they were forced to go without food and water for long periods of time and that they were suspended from the ceiling and beaten by the government officers. ((Dwyer Arce, Kenya Court Awards Compensation to Nyayo Torture Victims, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (July 22, 2010),
.) The defense mounted by the Kenyan government was based on three arguments: that the statute of limitations on the cause of action had lapsed; that the plaintiffs’ claims were too general, in that they failed to identify individual perpetrators and only asserted that the torture occurred at the hands of state officials, making it difficult to ascertain what actually happened; and that the case should be referred instead to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. The Court rejected all of the state’s arguments. (Ngesa, supra.)

Although the case was initially lodged in 1988, the Constitutional Court ruled at the time that it could not adjudicate the case while the Moi regime was still in power, and so the filing was delayed until 2004. (Arce, supra.)