Manyani prisoners sue state for torture

Prisons Deputy commissioner David macharia(left) gives promotion badges to Nicholas Maswai who was promoted to the rank of Senior Assistant commissioner of Prisons at Manyani maximum security prison. (Photo: Beverlyne Musili/Standard)

Three inmates serving life sentences at the Manyani Maximum Security Prison have sued the State for alleged torture at the penal institution.

According to a petition filed by the prisoners, Interior Security Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, Attorney-General Githu Muigai and Commissioner General for Prisons Isaya Osugo are listed as the respondents.

The petition has been filed under a certificate of urgency at the Constitutional Division of the High Court in Voi by Thomas Morara, Charles Okello and Dennis Mateyo. The three also want Coast Prisons Commander James Kodieny and the officer-in-charge of Manyani Prison, Nicholas Kipsang Maswai, summoned to explain why inmates at the facility were being subjected to inhuman treatment, including beatings and starvation.

The case was mentioned on Friday before Lady Justice Jackline Kamau in Voi.

The judge said the court was duty-bound to ensure inmates’ basic human rights were protected.

Documents show the petition was filed on behalf of more than 800 inmates at the facility who needed protection against harassment by the authorities.

Mr Morara said the court should summon the respondents to explain why inmates were being mistreated.

He said they would also want to know if mistreatment was a standard procedure for all correctional facilities in the country.

“The respondents should be summoned by the court to state if the conditions at the Manyani are the acceptable norm for all the prisons,” he argued.

To support the application, Mr Morara cited an incident where an inmate identified as Swaleh Jefar, who was expected to be freed next year, died after he burnt himself in protest after authorities denied his request to be transferred to a Mombasa Prison.

The petition has also been served to the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC), Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the civil society.

Nguyo Wachira, a senior litigation counsel from the Attorney General’s office, asked the court to dismiss the petition, saying it was fatally flawed.

The Litigation Counsel noted that two of the applicants had not been party to the petition and were only included after it was filed in court.

Mr Wachira said the petition was misleading as it violated basic legal tenets.)