Dear Fida Kenya,
I’m a married woman with two children. Last weekend my husband and I went to Mombasa for holiday. Everything was paid for and we just wanted to have fun and peace of mind together. Upon arrival at this hotel, the guards made some degrading remarks. They asked my husband whether I was there for a short time or sleeping over. I felt demeaned and I complained to the management, but no action was taken. What are my legal rights and can I sue the security firm?
Our Constitution provides safeguards for our inherent human rights. A person has a right to be treated with dignity wherever they go. Section 28 expressly preserves the dignity of individuals and communities.
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The Penal Code, Chapter 63 of the Laws of Kenya and Section 194 provides for what constitutes the offence of defamation or libel. The section provides inter alia that any person who, by print, writing, painting or effigy, or by any means otherwise than solely by gestures, spoken words or other sounds, unlawfully publishes any defamatory matter concerning another person, with intent to defame that other person, is guilty of the misdemeanour termed libel.
The implication of this section, therefore, is that gestures, spoken words or other sounds do not strictly speaking qualify as libel.
With regard to the fact that you did raise the issue with the hotel and no action was taken, it is important that you consider doing so formally and possibly in writing.
You cannot take action against the hotel directly as chances are that the security firm was contracted by the hotel to provide security within the hotel premises and, therefore, the existing contractual duty is between the hotel and the security firm.
In this regard, you being a client of the hotel should complain to the hotel as it has a duty to ensure your stay within their premises was as comfortable as possible and without incidences of such nature. Your stay should have been nothing less than enjoyable.
Therefore, the hotel is liable for any conduct of its own employees and it has the responsibility to ensure its customers are treated with the dignity they deserve.
Your recourse thus lies with the hotel once you lodge a formal complaint.