Victims of torture and violence make fresh demands

Historical injustices survivors presenting their manifesto to the presidential candidates  Photo: Henry Owino
Historical injustices survivors presenting their manifesto to the presidential candidates Photo: Henry Owino

Zibora Lala is happy that the just concluded polls were peaceful.

Lala remembers the 2007 General Election with tears in her eyes. She was in her house in the sprawling Mathare slums when neighbours turned against her. She was burnt with acid leaving her with severe burns. She and her daughter were also sexually assaulted.

Lala developed problems in her spine when the attackers inserted a bottle in her private parts. She is still on medication ten years later, medicines she buys with her own money. “I only got free consultation with the doctor and I have to get the prescription with my own money,” she explains.

Lala is not the only survivor still nursing the effects of the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Linda Munyendo who still uses a crutch owing to the injuries she sustained during the post-election violence.

“I conceived out of rape and I could throw away the baby. I have to take care of her and made sure her needs are catered for,” she says.

One stop centre

Not many people are as lucky as Munyendo because she started a business which is thriving to cater for her child’s needs.

Munyendo wants the government and other non-governmental organizations to establish one-stop centres to cater for survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

“Many survivors have to contend with the long process of reporting when they have been violated. To get justice they must fill in the P3 forms, access treatment, counselling and justice services of which are scattered everywhere,” says Munyendo. She notes: “We need a one stop centre where survivors can access services.”

Lala who is yet to recover from events of 2007-2008 post-election violence has been forced to depend fully on her son for survival because she became incapacitated. “My son completed his Form Four but I do not have money to take him to college. He does odd jobs to help me out,” she says.

Historical Injustices

Lala is looking forward to the promises made to survivors of historical injustices to be helped and medical needs covered.

The National Victims and Survivors Network (NVSN) came up with a manifesto on addressing gross human rights violations and historical injustices ahead of the August 8 General Elections to bind candidates who were vying for presidential elections.

“We demanded a political commitment that would ensure the next National Assembly adopts the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report and come up with an implementation framework as a matter of priority. This should be accompanied by a broad dissemination strategy that makes the TJRC report part of the school syllabus and community dialogue,” says the manifesto in part.

The TJRC was set to establish an accurate and complete historical record of violations and abuses of human rights in Kenya and hence seen as important in steering a conversation on national cohesion in the country.

They also wanted clarity on the President’s Fund and a sustainable reparations programme. “President Uhuru Kenyatta instructed the Treasury in May 2013 to establish a fund of KSh10 billion over three years for restorative justice. More than two years later, this promise has not been realised.”

The National Victims and Survivors Network manifesto also demands payment of court awards in relation to civil claims filed by victims and survivors and conclusion of constitutional petitions.

“To date, the National Victims and Survivors Network has documented over KSh8 billion in court award claims that are yet to be paid out to torture victims from the Nyayo House and Ex-82 Air force torture victim’s categories.”

Key Pillar

Memorialisation as key pillar of remembrance, acknowledgement and reconciliation was also a key point in the National Victims and Survivors Network manifesto. “A case in point is the symbolic monument that was promised by NARC and also recommended by the TJRC at the former torture chambers in the basement of Nyayo House Building in Nairobi,” states the manifesto.

Reclaiming security sector was also core in their manifesto. “Violations at the hands of the security agencies continue to persist,” says the manifesto in part. It calls for an audit of the state of security sector reforms and a pledge of political support. “Security agents involved in violation of human rights and who fail to respect the rule of law must be promptly held accountable,” states the manifesto.