Four petitioners awarded Ksh.16M in post-election sexual violence case
The High Court has awarded four petitioners Ksh.16million as damages for violation of their constitutional rights during the 2007 post-election chaos.
Justice Weldon Korir directed that the 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th petitioners be awarded costs of the suit against the Attorney General (1st respondent) and the Kenya Police Service (4th respondent).
“I must emphasize that sexual violation just like any other violation of human rights and freedoms should be compensated. Sexual violence carries with it both physical and mental pain and I am surprised that the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th respondents can casually assert that the petitioners have not established any injury,” the judge said.
The Minister for Medical Services and the Minister of Public Health and Sanitation were listed as the 5th and 6th respondents at the time of the filing of the petition dated February 20, 2013.
Petitioners in the case included 8 post-election survivors (six women and two men); the Coalition on Violence Against Women – Kenya COVAW (K); the Independent Lego-Medico Unit (IMLU); the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya) and the Physicians for Human Rights.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) joined the proceedings as an interested party while the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) was admitted as the 1st Amicus Curiae.
Katiba Institute, the Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO) and the Redress Trust came on board as the respective second Amicus Curiae, 3rd Amicus Curiae and 4th Amicus Curiae.
Aside from seeking damages, the petitioners had also asked the court to compel the Attorney General (1st respondent) and the Kenya Police Service (4th respondent) to produce and release a full report on all instances of SGBV during PEV, collaborate to establish an international special division for the investigation and prosecution of SGBV, and to create a database of all victims of SGBV committed during the post-election violence.
On Thursday, the Court said it was urged to compel the Attorney General to establish an independent body for monitoring the provision of reparations to victims of SGBV during PEV and report periodically to this Court on the implementation of its judgment.
According to a report jointly published by Physicians for Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UN Women, sexual violence has been a significant feature of elections in Kenya since the early 1990s.
Naitore Nyamu-Mathenge, Head of Kenya Office-Physicians for Human Rights Kenya, noted that historically there has been limited documentation of election-related sexual violence but that changed in the months following contested elections in December 2007.
“The chaos and violence that ensued was horrific and marked by widespread gang rape, forced witnessing, forced circumcision, and other heinous acts that targeted women and men, girls and boys,” she said.
According to her, despite the ubiquity of sexual violence during and following the elections, the Government of Kenya failed in its responsibility – under both domestic and international law – to safeguard the rights of survivors.
She further criticized the Kenya Police Service over what she terms as failure to pursue genuine and prompt criminal investigations into sexual violence reports.