UA 350/90 - Kenya: legal concern : fear of torture: Israel Otieno Agina, Philip Gachoka Githaiga
EXTERNAL(for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 32/18/90
UA 350/90 Legal Concern/Fear of Torture 6 September 1990
KENYA: Israel Otieno AGINA, businessman, former prisoner of conscience
Philip Gachoka GITHAIGA, businessman
lsrael Otieno Agina was arrested in Nairobi on about 16 August 1990. He is the thnical
director of East African Spectre Ltd, a business owned by Oginga Odinga, a former
Vice-President of Kenya and prominent critic of the government. The authorities
have given no explanation for his arrest and he has not so far been charged with
any offence. His prolonged detention without being presented before a judicial
authority beyond the 14 days permitted for even the most serious offences is illegal
but, as in many previous political cases, the Kenyan legal and judicial authorities
have not criticized or attempted to prevent this police practice. It is believed
that his arrest may be connected to the arrest in July 1990 of Raila Odinga, Oginga
Odinga's son, who was managing director of the same company and is currently detained
indefinitely without charge or trial and adopted by AI as a prisoner of conscience.
Israel Otieno Agina had been previously adopted by AI as a prisoner of conscience
when he was detained without trial between August 1986 and February 1988, and again
between September 1988 and June 1989. On the first occasion he was severely tortured.
Philip Gachoka Githaiga was arrested in Nairobi on 16 August 1990 by Special Branch
police officers. According to his lawyer, he was blindfolded, dumped in a car boot
and taken to the Special Branch's Nairobi headquarters in Nyayo House. He was denied
access to his legal representative and interrogated for three days about his
connections with three political detainees (who have all been adopted by AI as
prisoners of conscience) - Kenneth Matiba (for whom he had been parliamentary
campaign organizer) Charles Rubia and Raila Odinga (see above).
On 21 August Philip Gachoka Githaiga was brought to court before the Chief Magistrate
and charged with possessing a seditious publication - a leaflet of the clandestine
opposition organization, Mwakenya. He was allowed legal representation but bail
was denied. No date has been set for his trial.
In July 1990 several politicians, lawyers, businessmen and others advocating a
multi-party political system in Kenya and criticizing the government were arrested.
Three (see above) are still detained without charge or trial for an indefinite period
under the Public Security Regulations, and several others were charged with
possession of seditious publications. The alleged seditious publications included
Beyond, a church magazine banned in 1988, the Nairobi Law Monthly, Africa
Confidential, a political newsletter published in London, as well as leaflets of
Mwakenya calling for the violent overthrow of the government. Church leaders
criticising the government have also been accused of "subversion" and one of them,
Bishop Alexander Muge, the Anglican Bishop of Eldoret, was subsequently killed in
a car crash on 14 August 1990. He had earlier been publicly threatened by the Minister
of Labour, Peter Okondo, that he would be killed if he went on the journey he took.
His death, as well as the murder of the former Foreign Minister, Robert Ouko, in
February 1990, has been attributed by many to members of the security forces, although
the government has denied this.
Amnesty International is concerned that Israel Otieno Agina and Philip Gachoka
Githaiga may be being tortured to force them to plead guilty to charges of sedition.
Torture methods reported in Kenya in recent years include being held in water-flooded
cells without food for up to several days, as well as death threats. Prisoners charged
with sedition have also complained of "cruel and inhuman conditions" in prison
Amnesty International believes that Israel Otieno Agina and Philip Gachoka Githaiga
may have been arrested for their non-violent opinions and their connections with
other government opponents, including prominent opponents of one-party rule, such
as Oginga Odinga and Kenneth Matiba. They could face unfair trials where judicial
independence is lacking and under laws which make even non-violent criticism of
the government a criminal offence punishable by several years' imprisonment.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telexes/telegrams/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern at the re-arrest of Israel Otieno Agina, a former prisoner
of conscience who is being held illegally, and the arrest of Philip Gachoka Githaiga;
- urging respect for their human and legal rights and that they should not be tortured
- calling for them to be allowed immediate and regular access to their relatives
and legal representatives, with medical treatment as needed;
- appealing for them to be released unconditionally if they were arrested solely
for their opinions or their connections with critics of one-party rule in Kenya.
Mr Matthew Muli Mr James Kanyotu
Attorney General Director of Special Branch
Office of the Attorney General Kenya Police Headquarters
PO Box 40112 PO Box 33308
Nairobi, Kenya Nairobi, Kenya
Telegrams: Attorney General Muli, Telegrams: Police Special Branch
Nairobi, Kenya Director, Police HQ, Nairobi, Kenya
Telexes: 22003 FOREIGNRB Telexes: 22720 COMPOL KE
or 22696 FOREIGNRB (Attn: Director Special Branch)
(via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Mr James Mareka
Commissioner of Prisons
Kenya Prison Service Headquarters
PO Box 30175 Telegrams: Prison Commissioner Mareka,
Nairobi, Kenya Prison Service HQ, Nairobi,Kenya
Mr Wilson Ndolo Ayah Mr Philip Kilonzo
Minister of Foreign Affairs Commissioner of Police
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kenya Police Headquarters
P O Box 30551 PO Box 30083
Nairobi, Kenya Nairobi, Kenya
Mr Justice Alan Hancox The Chairman Law Society of Kenya
Chief Justice Law Courts P O Box 72219
PO Box 30041 Nairobi, Kenya
and to diplomatic representatives of Kenya in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals
after 11 October 1990.