Supreme Court awards Sh2.5m to Koigi's mother, other victims of Nyayo-era torture
The Supreme Court has ordered the government to pay Ms Monica Wangu Wamwere, the mother of former assistant minister and Nakuru politician Koigi wa Wamwere, Sh2.5 million as damages for the torture she suffered in Nairobi during the late President Daniel Moi's regime.
Others also awarded the sum are Michael Maina Kamami, Koigi Wainaina, Priscilla Mwara Kimani, Lucy Waturi Kimani and Esther Gathoni Gicimu on account of contravention and violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Ms Wamwere, who filed the case at the Supreme Court to claim compensation for inhumane treatment during the 1992 protests at Freedom Corner, Uhuru Park, had sought Sh50 million as damages. Priscilla, Lucy and Esther sought to be awarded Sh5 million each while Michael and Koigi did not indicate the sums they wanted.
On Friday, the Supreme Court said there is no limitation of time in matters relating to violation of rights under the Constitution.
Pushing for Koigi's release
Ms Wangu was in a group of women called “mothers of political prisoners” together with their supporters, and had camped at the Freedom Corner section of Uhuru Park.
Their loved ones had been incarcerated over politically instigated offences ranging from treason, sedition, to being members of unlawful organisations. The offences stemmed from their agitation for political pluralism in the then one-party state.
Ms Wangu was pushing for the release of her two sons: Koigi Wamwere and Charles Kuria Wamwere. Together with other mothers and their supporters, they protested by going on a hunger strike.
On March 3, 1992 the six people were at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner in a peaceful demonstration for the release of the prisoners detained by the government.
Officers from the Kenya Police and General Service Unit (GSU) descended upon them with boots, batons, rubber whips, slaps, kicks and blows which caused injured them.
Further, on various dates between March 4, 1992 and January 19, 1993, during a hunger strike staged at the All Saints Cathedral grounds, Kenya Police Force and the GSU continued to attack her and her fellow demonstrators throughout the ten months.
The case had been dismissed by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal for being filed late. The courts argued that 2013 was too late since the violations had occurred in 1992.
But on Friday, the Supreme Court set aside the judgments of the two courts. Led by Chief Justice Martha Koome, the apex court stated that there is no statute of limitation in matters relating to violation of rights under the Constitution.
“A declaration do issue that the appellants rights and freedom from inhuman treatment as protected under Section 74(1) of the repealed Constitution were violated by the Government of Kenya through the actions of its agents and/or servants (police officers and GSU officers),” said the Supreme Court.
Other judges on the bench were Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justices Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u and William Ouko.
They observed that the appellants’ explanation for the delay in filing their petitions in the High Court is plausible to the extent that it was attributed to lack of faith in the pre-2010 judiciary.
The judges held that although the appellants did not exhibit any physical injuries or medical reports, the court was persuaded that the whole incident had traumatised them. The traumatic effect can be equated to inhumane treatment which was a violation Section 74(1) of the repealed Constitution, said the court.