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Judge awards Sh4m to girl who was strip-searched by police

The High Court has awarded Sh4 million damages to a schoolgirl who was stripped by police as they searched for drugs two years ago.

The girl was among a group of students whose bus was intercepted by police on Karatina-Nairobi Road on August 5, 2015.

This was after the public informed the police that the bus was playing loud music and the children appeared intoxicated.

The 45 students from different schools were travelling home, mostly in Nairobi, for August holidays.

They were drunk and had been having sex and smoking bhang in the bus, according to people who saw them at Kibirigwi trading centre in Nyeri.

PLEADED GUILTY

Upon entering the vehicle, the police conducted a search and found bhang, which was hidden in the girl’s undergarments.

The girl, named withheld, was charged in court the following day, where she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation.

Human rights crusaders picked up the case after photos of the search were circulated in the social media.

In his decision, Justice John Mativo said the photographing and publication of her photos was harmful because it invaded to her privacy and dignity.

DEGRADING TREATMENT

“I conclude that the search was illegal in that it violated the provisions of the Children’s Act, Article 53 of the constitution, the right to dignity and not be subjected to degrading treatment and international conventions protecting the rights of children and statutory provisions governing police conduct while searching women,” the judge said.

The court said it was wrong for two female officers to search the girl in front of other students and male officers.

Although Judge Mativo said it was difficult to quantify the amount to be paid to the girl, Sh4 million would be reasonable.

The judge, however, declined to quash her conviction, saying she should have appealed against the sentence or ask for a review.