The High Court has awarded KSh4 million as damages to a schoolgirl who was strip-searched by the police in 2015.
The girl, whose name was withheld, was among a group of students whose bus was intercepted by the police on Karatina – Nairobi road on August 5, 2015, after it was reported to them that its occupants were engaging in sexual activities and smoking marijuana.
People who saw the bus at Kibirigwi trading center in Nyeri said that the students were intoxicated and that the bus was playing very loud music.
The students were from different schools and were traveling home, mostly in Nairobi, for the August holidays, when the incident occurred.
The police entered the vehicle and conducted a search, finding marijuana on the bus with some of it hidden away in the girl’s underwear.
She was immediately arrested and charged to court the following day, where she plead guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation.
Videos and nude pictures of the girl being strip-searched during the incident almost soon after began circulating online prompting a human rights NGO to pick up the case.
The NGO, Cradle, filed a case seeking KSh7 million compensation for the girl for violation of privacy.
On Monday, Judge John Mativo awarded the girl KSh4 million.
In his ruling, the judge said the photographing and publication of the schoolgirl’s nude photos was harmful because it invaded her privacy and dignity.
He also said it was wrong for two female officers to search the girl in front of other students and male officers.
“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 judge, however, declined to quash her 18 months probation conviction, saying she should have appealed against the sentence or ask for a review.