In a major win, the High Court in Nairobi has Thursday ruled in favor of four survivors of post-election sexual violence in Kenya.
In Constitutional Petition No. 122 of 2013, the Court found that the Government of Kenya was responsible for a “failure to conduct independent and effective investigations and prosecutions of SGBV [sexual and gender-based violence]-related crimes during the post-election violence.”
Four of the eight survivor-petitioners in the case were each awarded compensation of 4 million shillings “for the violation of their constitutional rights.”
The High Court in Nairobi found a “violation of the Kenyan state to investigate and prosecute violations of the rights to life, the prevention of torture, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and the security of person.”
The judgement marks the first time ever in Kenya that post-election sexual violence has been legitimately recognised by the government and survivors have been offered compensation for harm suffered.
The judgement was announced on December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.
“After more than seven years of litigation and delays, some justice has finally been served,” said Naitore Nyamu, head of the Kenya office of Physicians for Human Rights, one of the co-petitioners that brought the case in 2013.
“This is a historic day for survivors of the rampant sexual violence perpetrated in the aftermath of the 2007 election, who have waited for accountability for far too long. The court’s decision will reverberate widely for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya and around the world.” they added.
The decision is marred by the fact that the court recognized the harms endured by only four out of the eight survivor-petitioners.
In 2013, eight survivors (six women and two men) of the post-election sexual violence joined with the international NGO Physicians for Human Rights and three Kenyan civil society organizations (Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW); International Commission of Jurists – Kenya; and Independent Medico-Legal Unit) to file this first-of-its-kind lawsuit against six state actors.
The survivors detailed a range of harrowing accounts from the 2007-2008 post-election violence: incidents of individual and gang rape, forced circumcision, and other forms of sexual violence, which resulted in severe physical injuries, psychological and socio-economic suffering, and other serious health complications.
For the survivor-petitioners, Thursday’s judgement comes after more than seven years of bureaucratic delays and barriers to having their case resolved in the courts of law.