Kenya adopts torture prevention law

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On 13 April 2017, Kenya made an important step forward towards the prohibition and prevention of torture, when President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the 2017 Prevention of Torture Act. The APT welcomes this new law, which took almost ten years to develop, and pays tribute to Kenyan civil society organisations for their tireless campaigning as well as critical engagement during parliamentary and other processes.

The Act reinforces respect for human dignity by giving effect to the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Torture. It has been widely reported in the Kenyan media and social media as a “milestone for Kenya” or a “vital step in the right direction,” not only for providing a clear platform to actualise several fundamental articles in the 2010 Kenyan Constitution, but also for making it easier to prosecute the actual crime of torture or ill-treatment and for empowering victims to claim redress for all forms of cruel treatment in the hands of State agents.

“The Act now needs to be promoted and implemented in practice in order to significantly prevent torture and other ill-treatment,” states Jean-Baptiste Niyizurugero, APT’s Africa Programme Officer at the origin of the Robben Island Guidelines for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment in Africa. “Moreover, to complement this positive development, Kenya should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and establish an effective National Preventive Mechanism to efficiently reduce the risks of torture in places of deprivation of liberty.”