A comprehensive reparations system for custodial deaths
A human rights approach to justice
Keywords:death in custody, reparations, extrajudicial deaths, police misconduct, victimhood
Death in police custody is one of the major social injustices in Kenyan society today. While many continue to call for the criminal prosecution of police officers involved in such extrajudicial deaths, less is said about the human rights remedies available for the victims surviving the deceased. National, regional and international law provides for remedies for human rights violations in the form of reparations. The jurisprudence of Kenyan courts, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights confirm that such victims are entitled to various forms of reparations. This paper analyses victimhood and the reparation systems in Kenya. The introduction briefly discusses death in police custody as a form of human rights violation. The paper then investigates the notion of a victim in national, regional and international law, with the aim of highlighting the scope of accruing human rights and the attached remedies. Consequently, the paper evaluates the Kenyan system of reparations available to victims in both national, regional, and international human rights law. This evaluation expounds on the forms of reparations available for victims of deaths in police custody. In concluding, this paper makes recommendations for victims and their families pursuing human rights remedies in addition to criminal sanctions against the police.