Kenya: Sexual Assault Victims Take Government to Court
Friday, March 28, 2014 3:45 PM

After a disputed Presidential election was decided in Kenya 2007, government officials are alleged to have participated in extensive crimes against civilians during the the violence that followed, including thousands of rapes of Kenyan women. After Keriako Tobiko, Kenya's director of public prosecution, announced that the newly created international crimes division (ICD) would not review any cases arising from the post-election period, several Kenyan rape survivors and four civil society groups sued Tobiko and other senior government officials for compensation for the government's failure to protect women after the elections, and its failure to investigate and prosecute thousands of case of sexual assaults and forced pregnancies.

The goverment says that a special task force was organized to review 5000 cases of post-election violence, and that it achieved 500 convictions, but government officials have provided little in the way of information or detail on the nature of the activities of the task force or the types of cases it is pursuing. Rape victims allege that even if police agree to investigate a case, such investigations rarely end in prosecutions let alone convictions. Additionally, many women are "met with laughter and derision" when they try to report sexual assauts and other abuse. Last year, a Kenyan judge ruled that, by failing to investigate 160 rapes of young girls, Mr. Tobiko and Kenyan police "contributed to the development of tolerance for pervasive sexual violence", violating both domestic and international law. 

The current Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his deputy are facing charges in the International Criminal Court arising out of the 2007-2008 violence. It is not clear when a decision will be issued in the most recent lawsuit by Kenyan rape survivors agains the government.   

Compiled from: Nyanyuki, Joan, Kenyan women want justice over post-election sexual violence, The Guardian
(March 25, 2014); Rape victims take Kenya government to court, Turkish Press (March 25, 2014)