On 13th April 2017, the President of Kenya assented to the prevention of Torture Act No.12 of 2017 (Act). Seven days later, on 20th April 2017, the act came into force.
The Act unlike any other clearly defined the offenses of Torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment punishment, and the offense of using information obtained through Torture.
Further, the act introduced clear penalties, fines, and irreducible minimums in the prosecution of cases of torture.
Since 2017, there were cases of torture that have been investigated and prosecuted but the charges therein were not under the POTA. This trend raised concerns of experts and practitioners as well as other Criminal Justice actors.
Given the concerns, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution in a bid to ensure effective and efficient prosecution of torture cases developed a Prosecution Rapid Reference Guide that includes Specimen charge sheets with all the possible offences under the POTA. This was developed in partnership with the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights, Internal Affairs Unit, Independent Medico-Legal Unit-IMLU, experts and consultants.
Subject to the analysis of the different laws , the Rapid Response guide addressed the key offences, actus rea and mens rea, points to prove the offence, evidence required, ancillary powers given and agencies to be involved.
The uniqueness of the Rapid Reference guide is seen in the itemization of the salient points that the prosecutor needs to prove to secure a conviction for all cases brought under the act.