Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – Edward Mwachinga, Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, has written an article in defense of victims of terrorism.
Here is full text:
Mainstreaming the needs of victims of terrorism has been a slow and arduous affair.
- While terrorists generally target States to push a certain agenda, it is the victims who bear the brunt of the grisly terror attacks resulting in loss of lives, damage to property and the ensuing socioeconomic disruption.
- Whether compensation or restitution, victims of terrorism, like those of other crimes, deserve to be restored to the position where they were prior to the attack.
A KDF officer interacts with Somalia children in Dhobley.
Terrorism is an attack on humanity.
The ultimate impact of the barbaric acts of violent extremists manifests itself in the untold physiological, psychological, emotional and mental suffering meted out not just on the victims, but also their families and communities.
While terrorists generally target States to push a certain agenda, it is the victims who bear the brunt of the grisly terror attacks resulting in loss of lives, damage to property and the ensuing socioeconomic disruption.
Whereas there has been a concerted global effort to combat terrorism and other forms of violent extremism in recent years, most notably after the 9/11 attacks in the US, mainstreaming the needs of the victims of terrorism has been a slow and arduous affair.
It was not until 2008 that the global community began to seriously accelerate efforts to address the plight of victims of terror during the United Nations Symposium on Supporting the Victims of Terrorism in New York.
This followed the adoption of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2006, calling on nations to end the dehumanization of terrorism victims, to give them a face and a voice, and more importantly, create support systems at the national level.
Such support includes providing medical, psycho-social and financial assistance to enable the victims and their families to rebuild their lives but more critically, ensure justice for the affected persons while holding the perpetrators accountable for their heinous acts.
The Madrid Memorandum of Good Practices for Assistance to Victims of Terrorism Immediately After the Attack and in Criminal Proceedings proclaims that States should consider providing financial assistance and other forms of reparation, including financial compensation, for victims of terrorism.
It is also internationally accepted that victims should also be accorded legal status in pursuit of justice.
The perpetrators must not only be brought to book but also compelled to make reparations to the victims in the form of compensation or restitution.
Generally, the compensation made to victims of crime is normally in the form of financial support by the State to help meet costs incurred because of a crime.
Restitution on the other hand involves the perpetrator paying the victim.
The assets of the attacker or their facilitators who may even include States are seized and used to pay victims.
Some countries like the US, Italy and Spain have used both compensation and restitution as part of victim support to cater for economic loss, personal injury, cost of medical treatment and other incidental expenses arising out of terrorist attacks.
Whether compensation or restitution, victims of terrorism, like those of other crimes, deserve to be restored to the position where they were prior to the attack, or at least to be supported to recover what they lost.
Our Constitution at Article 29 (c) provides that every person has a right to freedom and security and the right not to be subjected to any form of violence from either public or private sources.
Article 50 (9) says that Parliament shall enact legislation providing for the protection, rights and welfare of victims of offences. These two provisions lay the constitutional basis for the protection and support of victims of terrorism.
In 2014, Parliament, pursuant to Article 50 (9), enacted the Victim Protection Act 2014.
The Act provides a mechanism for the protection of victims of crime and abuse of power and, inter alia, provides reparation and compensation to victims.
Section 23 of the Act expressly provides for the right of the victim to compensation or restitution from the offender.
Compensation under the Act means an award by the court to a victim.
Restitution means the Act of restoring the victim, to the extent possible, to the status prior to the offence resulting in loss or injury. Financial restitution means payment by the offender to the actual victim of the offence.