Lawyers representing Kenyan survivors in the 1998 United States Embassy bombing have asked the Senate to push the US Congress to review a legislation on compensations of victims to allow those in Kenya to benefit as well.
The lawyers who spoke during a session with the Adhoc committee of the Senate set up to push for the compensation of Kenyan victims, said the current legislation did not favour victims in Kenya.
They want senators in Kenya to initiate talks with their counterparts in the US to enact a budget-neutral legislation that will see the Kenyan victims become eligible for compensation.
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 wording, victims of such attacks who are Kenyan nationals are not eligible for compensation.
So far, the Fund has compensated victims in other jurisdictions to the tune of USD 3 billion.
“After decades of litigation in the US Supreme Court, we were able to secure US 56.6 billion dollars in compensation against the Al-Qaeda attack on behalf of 351 Kenyans. What remains is an amendment to the legislation to include the Kenyan victims,” said Philip M. Musolino (pictured), one of the lawyers representing the victims.
“We were able to convince the court that the attack was directed at the US and it agreed that the victims of the attack must be compensated,” he added when he appeared before the committee.
Musolino argued that amending the legislation, which is the stumbling block to the compensation of Kenyan victims, will serve as a commitment of the US government in supporting its friends and allies.
The lawyers also asked the government to speak up on the issue to pile additional pressure on the US congress to take up the matter.
“Members of the Congress are very much interested in what the Kenyan government has to say. I believe the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and a high-level delegation of the State Department attended the August 7th commemoration because of this Committee.
“The government’s support would be a shot in the arm,” said Musolino.
Should the Adhoc committee chaired by Machakos senator Agnes Kavindu convince the US Congress to amend the Compensation Fund, each Kenyan victim will walk away with about USD 5million.
At least 213 Kenyans and 12 American Citizens died while 5,000 people were injured in the 1998 bombing that targeted the US Embassy in Nairobi.