Nyayo House torture chambers case

Case to declassify Nyayo House torture chambers as protected area | Constitutional Petition No. E275/2024
Case filed: June 5, 2024 Current status: Case Ongoing
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Petitioners

  • Bernard Wachira Waheire
  • Florence Nyaguthi Murage
  • Joseph Kamonye Manje
  • Prof Ngotho Kariuki
  • Kenya Human Rights Commission
  • Law Society of Kenya

Respondents/ Appellants

  • Attorney-General
  • Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage
  • Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior and National Coordination

Interested Parties

  • Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Status Updates

Survivors and victims of torture who were brutalized or killed by police officers at the infamous Nyayo House torture chambers sued the Kenyan government. They wanted the chambers converted into a national monument for posterity.

Judge Lawrence Mugambi scheduled a hearing for September 23, 2024, to provide further directions on the case.

Summary of facts

On February 1, 1991, former Minister of State Jackson Angaine published Legal Notice Number 11 of 1991, which declared the torture chambers at Nyayo House in Nairobi a protected area.

With a pen stroke, Nyayo House became a restricted area, inaccessible to the public.

During former President Daniel Moi’s autocratic regime, the police from the Special Branch used Nyayo House to torture and kill Kenyans advocating for democracy.

The 24, 25, and 26 floors of Nyayo House were interrogation rooms, while the basement contained "dark, dingy, and often waterlogged cells."

The notice aimed to justify and conceal the illegal detention and torture of many innocents.

The chambers were opened to the public for the first time on February 18, 2003, after former dictator Moi's regime ended.

Since then, no unrestricted access has been allowed.

Following the 2007-08 post-election violence in Kenya, the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) was formed to help end animosity in the country and resolve historical injustices.

In 2011, the TJRC recommended that the chambers be open to the public. The recommendation had a one-year implementation timeframe, which was not met.

Subsequent efforts to make the chambers continuously accessible have not been successful.

Survivors and victims of Nyayo House torture have been trying unsuccessfully to access the chambers unrestricted. Numerous letters to authorities requesting this have gone unanswered.

The victims, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Law Society of Kenya sued the government on June 4, 2024.

They demanded that the chambers be open to the public without restrictions and converted into a national monument for posterity.

If the court rules in favor of the suit, the chambers will become accessible to the public for remembrance and education about Kenya's history at the former torture facility.

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