Main Menu
Human Trafficking
Street Children

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    

Republic of Kenya

Violence against suspects and detainees by security forces, including extrajudicial killings, remains a serious concern, and abuses are rarely punished. According to the Deadly Force Database kept by the Daily Nation, about 189 people were killed by police in the period between October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019. An average of 16 people were killed each month, a decline from the 21 a month during the previous year. Further deaths are believed to have gone unreported. Some officers posted photos of executed victims on social media. Extrajudicial killings have been especially prevalent in low-income areas in Nairobi.

  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Kenya

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Kenya.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kenya

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 26 July 2021]


NGOs continued to receive reports of torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment by government forces. As of October 1, the Independent Medico-Legal Unit documented 43 cases of torture and other inhuman treatment allegedly perpetrated by police during the year.

Police and prison officials reportedly used torture and violence during interrogations as well as to punish pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. According to human rights NGOs, physical battery, bondage in painful positions, and electric shock were the most common methods used by police. A range of human rights organizations and media reported police committed indiscriminate violence with impunity.


Human rights organizations reported prison, detention center, and police station conditions were harsh due to overcrowding, food and water shortages, and inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care.


Police used excessive force in some cases when making arrests. For example, there were numerous press and NGO reports of police brutality against protesters and unarmed citizens (see sections 2 and 5), particularly related to the enforcement of COVID-19 public-health measures. Human Rights Watch reported that on March 27, police in Mombasa assaulted and used tear gas against crowds, including persons waiting for a passenger ferry, more than two hours before the start of curfew. Video clips on television and social media showed police kicking and beating individuals, including using batons, and forcing many to lie down on the ground in close quarters.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Violence against suspects and detainees by security forces, including extrajudicial killings, remains a serious concern, and abuses are rarely punished. According to the Deadly Force Database kept by the Daily Nation, about 189 people were killed by police in the period between October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019. An average of 16 people were killed each month, a decline from the 21 a month during the previous year. Further deaths are believed to have gone unreported. Some officers posted photos of executed victims on social media. Extrajudicial killings have been especially prevalent in low-income areas in Nairobi.

8 herders nursing serious injuries after ‘torture’ by KDF soldiers

Abdimalik Hajir, Daily Nation, 4 September 2018

[accessed 6 September 2018]

At least eight herders are nursing serious injuries at Masalani Hospital in Ijara Sub-County, Garissa County, after they were allegedly tortured by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers conducting an operation to flush out al-Shabaab militants from Boni Forest.

The herders, some of whom were brought to the hospital unconscious, claimed the soldiers round them up before ordering them to undress.

They alleged the officers then told them to lie facing down before raining blows and kicks on them. They were also beaten up using clubs.

Nyayo House: Meet James Opiyo, Kenya’s dreaded 'torture-in-chief'

Nairobian reporter, 6 June 2018

[accessed 6 June 2018]

Listen to eminent author Ngugi wa Thiong’o whose hood was removed from his head and “I was taken into a room, put on a seat and there I found myself in front of nine mean-looking guys.” That was followed by endless interrogation spiced with beatings, slaps, kicks, whips, wooden pieces of wood and burning with cigarette ends.

Recalls Ngugi: “My screams did not help and as they continued brutalising me… after collapsing due to exhaustion, I was returned to the basement cells. The guards were instructed to continue with the beatings.”

Anyone deemed an enemy of the Kanu regime in the 1980s and 1990s, including politicians, scholars, university students, lawyers, journalists, civil servants, workers and peasants, had a painful rendezvous with Opiyo.

3 Kitui women accuse police of torture at Syongila AP Camp

Kitavi Mutua, Daily Nation, 10 November 2017

[accessed 11 November 2017]

The AP officers stormed their homes, found them cooking and dragged them out of their kitchens as their young children cried in fear of the officers’ terror.   At the camp, they were accused of insulting Pastor Augustus Ngui of Vision Outreach Ministry, whose church they ditched.

WHIPS - The police forced them to lie on their bellies on a dusty floor inside their camp and started whipping their backsides, the woman told the Nation.

 “We were held for more than three hours at night, facing brutal assault and no charges were preferred against us,” Mrs Kyalo, who was accompanied by her husband Kyalo Musyimi at the hospital, said.   “The officers released us instead of booking us at the nearest police station, if we had committed any offence.”

Mr Musyimi claimed that the AP officers were bribed by Pastor Ngui to “discipline the women” to settle a score.   The women said they were not in good terms with the church leader after they quit his ministry and joined another church.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


ABUSES BY GOVERNMENT SECURITY FORCES - Kenyan security forces conducted several abusive counterterrorism operations in Nairobi, on the coast, and in North Eastern region in 2014 following attacks and intercommunal clashes. The operations largely targeted ethnic Somali and Muslim communities.

During the Usalama Watch operation in Nairobi and Mombasa in April, security officers from multiple agencies raided homes, buildings, and shops, carting away money, cell phones, and other goods. They harassed and detained thousands— including journalists, refugees, Kenyan citizens, and international aid workers—without charge, and in appalling conditions for periods well beyond the 24-hour legal limit.

Various police units have also been implicated in the torture, disappearance, and unlawful killing of alleged terrorism suspects and individuals of Somali origin, Somali refugees, and Muslims in Mombasa, Nairobi, North Eastern region, and other parts of the country.

Prison Commandant boss sued over torture of five inmates

Maureen Odiwuor, Standard Digital News, Kisumu, 7 March 2014

[accessed 17 March 2014]

[accessed 31 December 2017]

A lawyer in Kisumu has sued Prisons Commandant Isaiah Osugo over torture of five inmates. The inmates at Kibos Main Prison in Kisumu County are alleged to have been tortured during a raid for contraband on February 13. Lawyer Jamsumbah Onyango told the High Court sitting in Kisumu that on February 14, he went to the prison seeking to visit and interview the five but was denied the opportunity to see them. Prison officials told him the previous night they was a problem. He told Justice Hillary Chemitei that out of curiosity, he found out from prison warders that prisoners were unlawfully tortured and they sustained serious injuries. Those who were badly injured were not allowed to see their relatives or advocates.

Masinde’s torture ordeal in the hands of police

Joe Kiarie, The Standard, Nairobi, Kenya, 30 Aug 2013

[accessed 31 Aug 2013]

Charles Masinde still rues the moment he dared argue with a traffic policeman.

“Two men in plainclothes and one in police uniform jumped out, identified themselves as policemen and started raining kicks and blows on me. They pointed guns at me, saying they would kill me for kidnapping a state officer,”

Masinde says he was taken to Parklands Police Station where he claims two officers beat him nightlong before he was released early the following morning with no charges preferred against him.

Kenya police accused of abuse, torture, rape of Somali refugees after terror attacks

Tom Odula, The Associated Press AP, Nairobi, 29 May 2013

[accessed 21 March 2014]

Kenyan police abused and extorted money from Somali refugees after attacks in the capital believed to have been carried out by the Somali militant group al-Shabab, an international human rights group said Wednesday.

The Human Rights Watch report, covering mid-November to late January, also said that police arbitrarily arrested more than 1,000 asylum seekers.

The rights group said police used the attacks and a government order to relocate urban refugees to camps as an excuse to carry out the abuses.

“Refugees told us how hundreds of Kenyan police unleashed 10 weeks of hell on communities close to the heart of Nairobi, torturing, abusing, and stealing from some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher for Human Rights Watch and author of the report.

A report released last week by the government-funded Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission found Kenya’s state security agencies, particularly the police and army, have been the main perpetrators of human rights violations, including massacres, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence.

A bribe-taking culture exists in the force and officers live in deplorable conditions, are poorly paid, under-equipped and understaffed, former police spokesman Eric Kiraithe admitted last year.

JUVENILE INJUSTICE: Police Abuse And Detention Of Street Children In Kenya

Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Project, June 1997 -- ISBN 1-56432-214-9  Library of Congress 97-77536

Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 25 September 2011]

Street children in Kenya face innumerable hardships and danger in their daily lives. In addition to the hazards of living on the street, these children face harassment and abuse from the police and within the juvenile justice system for no reason other than the fact that they are street children. Living outside the protection of responsible adults, street children are easy and silent targets for abuse by police and society at large. On the streets, they are subject to frequent beatings by police as well as monetary extortion and sexual abuse. They are subject to frequent arrest simply because they are homeless.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY POLICE - Amnesty International continued to receive reports of a range of human rights violations by the police including excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and cases of ill-treatment of people in police detention. There were also numerous reports that the police targeted members of particular communities, in particular people of Somali origin, across the country.

Impunity for human rights violations committed by the police continued. The implementation of key laws setting the framework for police reform was seriously delayed. The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) began work in June. It was mandated to investigate complaints and disciplinary or criminal offences committed by any member of the National Police Service. However, there were concerns that the budget allocated to IPOA was not sufficient for it to carry out its mandate.

In October, police arrested Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) leader Omar Mwamnuadzi, as well as more than 40 other people believed to be members of the MRC. During their arrest, two people were killed and several others injured by the police, including Omar Mwamnuadzi who was beaten. The group was charged with a range of offences, including belonging to an unlawful group, incitement and possession of firearms. Their cases were pending at the end of the year.

In October, police fired rubber bullets into a crowd demonstrating outside a police station about insecurity in Mathare, an informal settlement in Nairobi. Three protesters were arrested and charged with incitement to violence. Seven activists, including an Amnesty International staff member and two volunteers, who had attempted to meet with the police to discuss the protest, were arbitrarily detained, held overnight at Pangani police station in incommunicado detention and beaten. They were charged with incitement to violence, obstructing an officer while on duty and disorderly behaviour. The case was pending at the end of the year.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 6 January 2019]

Scroll Down


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 4   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 26 June 2012]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

While there are checks on arbitrary arrest in the legal system, they are not uniformly respected. Police still use force to extract information from suspects and deny them access to legal representation. Security forces engaged in extrajudicial killings during the 2008 postelection violence.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 16 February 2011]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices and the government took steps to eliminate prisoner abuse. There were documented instances of police using physical violence and torture during interrogations and as punishment of both pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners.

Detainees frequently claimed that they had been tortured or abused, making it difficult to separate real from fabricated incidents. But human rights organizations, churches, and the press highlighted and criticized numerous cases of torture and several cases of indiscriminate police beatings. The IMLU received 397 cases alleging torture at the hands of security officers, an increase from the 304 allegations IMLU received in 2004. According to the IMLU, a common form of torture was falanga, the beating of the feet and joints while the feet and hands were handcuffed and the victim was suspended upside down. Another method included placing a metallic drum over the victim's head and shooting at the drum.

The IMLU reported that cases of police torture resulted in death (see section 1.a.). Since the police themselves were responsible for investigating and prosecuting most crimes, reports from IMLU and other human rights organizations that provided evidence of torture by security forces were routinely ignored.

In February Salim Elijah Masinde, an inmate in Kamiti Prison told IMLU he had been severely beaten while in custody since 1988. A doctor's examination revealed that he had been abused. An IMLU investigation was ongoing at year's end and Masinde remains in prison.

There were no developments in the June 2004 case of David Ndegwa Kimemia who suffered a broken leg while in custody. OnMay 4, Ndegwa was acquitted of abusing a local chief due to lack of evidence.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Kenya",, [accessed <date>]