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Torture cases taint Moi’s 24-year era

Police beat up a demonstrator in Nairobi. FILE
Police beat up a demonstrator in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

As the nation mourns retired President Daniel Moi, some critics kept their eyes on the economic burden on the taxpayer by overzealous government officials and security agencies who committed human rights violations during his rule.

Between June and December 2019 alone, some Sh888million was paid out to cover for 52 cases of survivors who had successfully sued for compensation over inhumane treatment decades back.

More than 400 Kenyans have gone to court and successfully argued that they were tortured by State officials or officers during the Moi-era. Among them are lawyers, politicians, journalists, former university lecturers, student leaders, police and military officers.

While awarding some of the survivors, judges ruled that they were persuaded that the complainants had proved to the required standards that they were physically tortured and subjected to unwarranted cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

During the dark days, the police would arrest persons perceived to be dissidents and hold them in the infamous torture chambers at Nyayo House, Nairobi. Among those who suffered were persons calling for the return of multiparty politics or an end of then President Moi’s rule.

Thousands of activists, students and academics have claimed they were held without charges in the underground cells, some of them filled with water. They were sometimes denied food and water.

They include perceived leaders or members of movements such as Mwakenya, February Eighteen Movement and Release Political Prisoners (which also included mothers calling for the release of their 53 sons).

Others who faced the wrath of the government were editors, contributors and distributors of Pambana, a publication deemed seditious by the Kanu administration at the time.