EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 32/06/93
UA 54/93 Ill-treatment/Legal concern 2 March 1993
KENYA: John Makanga, pharmacist
Amnesty International is concerned at the ill-treatment, both on arrest and
in custody, of John Makanga who appears to be a prisoner of conscience. He
was arrested by plainclothes police officers without a warrant on 25 February
1993 at the Kilimanjaro Pharmacy, which he owns and which is located in the
Hilton Hotel in Nairobi. The police officers refused to identify themselves
or say why they were arresting him. They beat him severely - even though his
lawyer and friends were present - and drove him off to an undisclosed
destination. His lawyer protested but was unable to prevent this.
John Makanga appeared in a magistrate's court in Nairobi on 1 March 1993 with
new injuries to his hands, legs and back, apparently the result of further
beatings in police custody. He said he had been denied food for the three days
following his arrest. He was charged with distributing seditious publications
accusing the government of responsibility for new ethnic clashes in western
Kenya. The magistrate made no inquiry into his injuries or treatment in custody,
refused his lawyer's application for bail and remanded him in custody.
In early February 1993 several people were killed and thousands driven from
their homes in Burnt Forest, a town in Uasin Gishu district, Rift Valley
Province, in clashes between members of the locally dominant Kalenjin ethnic
group and members of the Kikuyu ethnic group, who might have been regarded
as opposition supporters in the recent elections. John Makanga had apparently
visited the scene of the clashes with Professor Wangari Maathai, chairperson
of the environmentalist Greenbelt Movement and a prominent government opponent.
President Moi (who is a member of the Kalenjin ethnic group) publicly accused
Professor Maathai on 20 September 1992 of "distributing inflammatory leaflets"
in Uasin Gishu and "fanning the clashes". She is reported to be in hiding and
there is concern for her safety.
Similar "ethnic clashes" in 1992 left tens of thousands of people displaced
and over 700 people dead, many of them allegedly killed by a secret force of
"Kalenjin warriors" supported, armed and funded by senior government and ruling
party figures. However, the authorities have taken no action against any of
those named in 1992 in investigations by a church-sponsored inquiry and a
The authorities in Kenya often use charges of sedition against non-violent
critics of the government, and several have been imprisoned in the past after