Kenya: Doctors win court case on behalf of torture survivors

July 6, 2011

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The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) recently ruled that the Kenyan government has failed to take legal action against the perpetrators of crimes against humanity during a military operation in the Mount Elgon region. Although the EACJ is not a criminal tribunal, it does have the power to order payment of damages to affected parties.

The case was brought to court by IFHHRO member IMLU (Independent Medico-Legal Unit), an organisation focusing on medical and psychological treatment of torture survivors, legal advice, litigation and community advocacy with regards to torture and its prevention. IFHHRO congratulates IMLU with this important victory.

The judges ruled that the government breached rule 24 of the East African Treaty ‘by failing to prevent, investigate or punish those responsible for execution, acts of torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment of more than 3,000 Kenyan residents of Mount Elgon District’. IMLU went to court in April 2011 to seek redress for the victims of a wave of violence in 2008, when hundreds of people were arrested and many of them allegedly tortured. IMLU’s research showed that the majority of the arrested were not rebels, as the government has claimed, but farmers, school-going children, vegetable sellers, drivers,  teachers, etc.