Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 14:10 to 15:40 Download Poster

Lesson from history - the aftermath of crushing the 1982 coup attempt in Kenya

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Ms. Hilda Nyatete ( Independent Medical Legal Unit (IMLU) - Kenya ), Mr. Peter Kiama - Executive Director ( Independent Medical Legal Unit (IMLU) - Kenya )


In 1982, a coup was attempted in Kenya in an effort to overthrow then President Moi and as a result, a group of Kenya Air Force servicemen were detained and tortured. The interrogation sessions utilized torture such as beating, stress positions, use of extreme light, and placement in water-logged cells for days with no food or water and various forms of psychological torture. These interrogations by Kenya Army Officers, the arresting officers, were designed to replace what was expected to be a validly constituted Board of Inquiry.


The research method was qualitative in nature
Interviews were conducted with former soldiers who had tortured during the interrogations that followed the aftermath of the 1982 attempted coup in Kenya. The themes that emerged during these interviews were documented and their characteristics and possible interpretations were explored.
A purposive sampling procedure was used in the selection of research participants. The 84 men who participated in the study ranged in age from 50-70 years of age and had served in the Kenyan Airforce in various capacities
The interview process was conducted by a group of psychological counsellors and medical doctors. There was a pre-interview which was conducted to seek informed consent.
The researchers used open ended questionnaires and audio tapes focusing on the soldier’s experiences. In addition there was a medical history taking and physical examination form filled out by forensic medical officers. Each interviewer summarized the interview in interview notes.
Data was analyzed grouped and given a conceptual label and coded. Researchers used SPSS; a qualitative data analysis package was
Three group discussions were conducted in order to present findings the researcher’s perceptions to the participants and to discuss any outstanding themes and recommendations


90% of those interviewed claimed they had a residual physical ailment as a result of torture and detention. 5.78 % of these physical ailments were directly attributed to the initial physical insult. 25% expressed dissatisfaction due to their medical complaints being categorized as routine geriatric complaints.
20% were dealing with unresolved family conflict resulting from financial, physical, stigmatization, psychological and emotional trauma that made it impossible to fulfill their occupational social obligations.
85.3 % of respondents had symptoms of some form of psychological impairment. 8% of respondents had some suicidal ideation. None of the respondents had previously sought any form of psychological treatment.
73% had sought legal redress and of these 30% were dissatisfied with the length and complexity of the legal redress process.
80% of respondents cited financial handicaps in their pursuit for legal and medical rehabilitation

Funding & No Conflicts Declaration

This research was sponsored by The Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU); in Kenya. The researchers have no conflict of interest to declare.

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