Kenyan senators urge their US counterparts to consider revising law on compensating bomb blast victims
A Senate Adhoc committee formed to push for the compensation of Kenyan victims of the 1998 US embassy bomb blast has urged the US Congress to consider amending a law passed by the House on the compensation of victims of terror attacks.
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The committee, in a report done on the compensation process of victims of the bomb attack which occurred in Nairobi close to 25 years ago, said that changes in the law, would allow Kenyan victims of the bomb blast access compensation from the US government.
The team chaired by Machakos senator Agnes Kavindu also want lawmakers in the US to consider approving a budget-neutral legislation to allow Kenyan victims of the blast become eligible for compensation.
“We pledge to ensure the continued pursuit of compensation for the victims of the 1998 bomb blast by lobbying US Congress to enact changes in legislation to enable Kenyan victims to access the compensation,” the committee said on Monday, February 12.
It argued that the US Congress had in 2014 approved a law that establishes a Victims Compensation Fund which allows victims of terror attacks targeting the US government to be paid.
However, due to the nature of the law and its wordings, victims of such attacks who are Kenyan nationals have not been eligible for compensation, the team said.
So far, the Fund has compensated victims in other jurisdictions to the tune of $3 billion.
The recommendation is part of a report considered and adopted by the committee on Monday, following months of deliberations with victims of the 1998 bomb blast, their lawyers, government officials as well as representatives of non-governmental organisations.
The committee also considered submissions from Kituo Cha Sheria, the Kenya Red Cross Society, Amref Health Africa, Adventist Development Relief Agency Kenya, Kenya Society for the Blind, Ernst and Young and Dr Linda Musumba of DLM Advocates, who were involved in the emergency and recovery efforts of the bombing victims.
The nine-member committee was formed by the Senate in July last year to pursue and accomplish the compensation of victims and families of the victims of Kenyan nationals by the United States government.
The bomb blast, which occurred on August 7, 1998, claimed the lives of at least 213 Kenyans and 12 Americans.
In addition, over 5,000 citizens of both countries were seriously injured due to the reverberations and collapse of adjacent buildings located within a two to three block radius of the US Embassy.
Some members of the committee also on Monday called for more time to allow the team to engage their counterparts in the US as well as US government officials on the matter.
“The committee has not managed to secure an appointment with the members of US Congress. We need to seek an extension on the Floor of the House so that we can see this matter through,” Senator Johnes Mwaruma, a member of the committee, said.
“Committee operations in the Senate were suspended by the Speaker during the Christmas break which affected our work. The Senate should consider extending the life of the Ad Hoc committee so that we lobby with the members of the US Congress,” added Senator Beatrice Ogolla.