Torture does not necessarily mean inflicting pain on someone physically as many believe; it is any kind of pain inflicted on someone either physically or mentally.
Every year, we are given the opportunity to stand united and remind the world that torture is a cruel violation of human rights. The World Torture Day is a day set aside by United Nations in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June. The day serves as a reminder to people that torture is a crime.
Ezekiel Ouma Njenga is the paralegal coordinator of Kamukunji Community based justice center. This center is run and managed by paralegals and offers legal aid services and education to the wider Kamukunji community under the supervision of Kituo cha Sheria.
To date, the center has offered legal aid services to 1500 clients. It has offered close to five free legal aid services in Pumwani, one in Eastleigh and another one in Mukuru Wa Njenga. What Ezekiel has noticed over 5 years he has been serving the Kamukunji community is that torture cases are on the rise. He gives the example of Mr. Juma who had a case in Makadara Court with a policeman from Shauri Moyo police station and was later allegedly killed by the same policeman three days before his next hearing early May this year. Justice has not yet been served. The mother, Mrs. Juma is afraid for her life too as she will be appearing in court.
According to Ezekiel this is not an isolated case. The center is aware of many other cases similar to that of Mr. Juma.
It is against this backdrop that the Kamukunji Community Justice Centre, under the leadership of Ezekiel decided to mark this year’s World Torture Day on the 26th of June with the main objective of creating awareness on the rights of torture victims in Kamukunji, more specifically, the right to rehabilitation.
It is hoped that through this event, the people of Kamukunji will access assured equal legal and social justice; commemorate World Torture Day; network and collaborate with potential partners and associates. At the end of the event it is the Kamukunji communities’ expectation that the State and non-state actors promote access to legal and human rights response.
We caught up with Ezekiel and team planning for the day ahead and this is what he had to say;
Question: In your view, what is Torture?
Torture isn’t necessarily inflicting pain physically on someone but it also means the mental pain. Someone might not undergo physical torture but mental torture which is worse as it is psychological disturbance.
Question: Who are the key guests?
Our Chief Guest will be from The Dutch Embassy to be invited by Kituo Cha Sheria and we also expect to invite a number of torture victims to share their past experiences. We are targeting over 1000 participants, clients and partners to join us in spearheading justice for victims of torture and those who suffered at the hands of courts during one party dictatorship as political prisoners and detainees in Kenya prisons, detention camp, remand prisons and police cells in Kenya.
Question: In what way do you think this day is helpful for torture victims?
The day is helpful as it provides a platform through which everyone unites and voice their opinions against human torture. The day will also provide free legal aid which will be very helpful. The community will also network with Human Rights Organizations present on that day.
Question: Why did you choose to mark this day at the Kamukunji Historical Grounds?
We chose Kamukunji grounds because we believe that Kamukunji Community have undergone torture and torture issues are on the rise in Kamukunji as we get different torture cases every day. This day will address issues of torture and many people in Kamukunji will participate as the venue is strategic. It is the grounds upon which democracy was fought for under the Moi regime. The day will create platform for the tortured victims to share their experience and familiarize themselves with the Community Justice Centre in Kamukunji.
Question: Is the public invited?
The public is invited as they are part of the targeted group and the invite will be done through posters and also writing invitation letters to their Ward Representatives.
Question: What activities will take place?
During the event, the following activities will be carried out;
• Soccer tournament
• Free legal aid and education clinic
• Seven aside girls soccer tournament