The Role and Impact of Aid in the Delivery of Prevention of Torture in Civil Society Organizations in Kenya – A Case Study of Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU)
Torture is defined by the Convention against Torture act, as an act which causes severe pain mentally or physically with an aim of achieving some information or a confession or punishment or for intimidation. Torture is an unbearable act of violation of a person’s human rights and an attack on a person’s dignity. State perpetrated torture in Kenya has been practiced since colonialism and it continued in the successive governments with the aim of suppressing divergent views from the middle class and the political elite. Today torture is manifested upon the poor and marginalized. Victims and survivors of torture have been assaulted, threatened, intimidated, have experienced arbitrary arrests and these terrorizing acts have led to death. Civil society organizations have focused time and attention to foster a torture free country with support from donor funding which has played a significant role in torture prevention work. About 26%1 of torture survivors have been able to access legal services. This is a clear indicator that access to medical, legal and psychological services is minimal especially in rural and urban poor communities. Knowledge and skills among professionals such as doctors, clinical officers, lawyers, human rights activists, community based monitors and counselors is limited in terms of documenting torture violations and providing timely responses to address the needs of victims and survivors of torture. The quality of forensic medical materials is poor and for this reason the pursuit of justice in cases of torture is hindered. The above professionals are not equipped with skills in collecting evidence, statements and documenting torture violations. The above mentioned problems are escalated by obstacles faced in the criminal justice system leading to poor delivery of services and the non domestication of international legal instruments which has encouraged a culture of impunity among perpetrators. This study therefore analyzes the role and impact of aid in the delivery of torture prevention by civil society organizations in Kenya. Using IMLU as a case study, documents, reports and publications are analyzed. The researcher gives a descriptive analysis on practice of torture prevention. Other civil society organizations in Kenya also contributed to the study so as to be able to analyze the role and impact of donor aid in prevention of human rights violations and particularly torture prevention activities. There is need for further research on the work of torture prevention and the practice of torture in Kenya among students and organizations. The results of this study indicated a significant contribution by international donor funding to support torture prevention activities. The study found out that 85% male victims and survivors of torture between the ages of 18 and 35 have benefited from IMLU’s medical, psychological and legal support in the last 20 years. The low turnout of women to report cases of torture was attributed to fear of reprisals and intimidation and possibly that they are not aware of their rights. This study therefore undertakes to analyze the role and impact of aid in torture prevention in Kenya.