International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Sexual Violence Victims Do Not Always Speak Immediately About Their Assault, Says Witness

Victims of sexual violence may not want to speak immediately about what they have gone through, a witness told the Kenyan High Court during a hearing into a petition filed by survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) perpetrated after the 2007 presidential poll.

Saida Ali, a former executive director of the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), made the observation on July 21 in response to a question from Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Edwin Okello. Ali, who is the 15th witness for the petitioners, was testifying for a second day during which lawyers representing the government and government agencies cross-examined her. You can read about her first day of testimony here.

Before Okello asked Ali his question, he had … Continue Reading

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Sexual Violence Victims Want Kenyan State to Acknowledge What Happened to Them, Says Witness

A witness said non-governmental organizations working with victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) committed during the upheaval that followed the December 2007 presidential election were “upset” when a top prosecutor said police did not treat the sexual violence as conflict-related.

Saida Ali told the Kenyan High Court on Wednesday that when the senior prosecutor spoke at a civil society function in October 2012, representatives of non-governmental organizations present had expected to hear more from the senior prosecutor than there was little that could be done about the SGBV cases they had on file.

“We were quite upset. We were upset because we were expecting more tangible action,” Ali told the court.

Ali is the 14th witness from the petitioners’ side to testify … Continue Reading

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Judges Decline to Consider Reparation Request of Victims in Ruto and Sang Case

Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) declined to consider a request by victims in the case against Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang to determine if the Kenyan government should provide them reparations or order the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) to provide them with assistance.

Trial Chamber V(a) said in a 2-1 decision that the chamber no longer has the jurisdiction to decide the matter because the trial against Ruto and Sang was terminated on April 5. Judges Robert Fremr and Olga Herrera Carbuccia reasoned in the July 1 decision that because the case was closed without any conviction, the chamber cannot make any ruling on the issue of reparation.

Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji dissented, elaborating his reasoning on … Continue Reading

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Witness: Scientific Evidence Not Necessary to Prosecute Sexual Crimes

An international investigator and prosecutor told the Kenyan High Court that to prosecute sexual crimes it is not necessary to have medical or physical evidence to corroborate the testimony of survivors of such crimes.

Maxine Marcus said there are examples of cases in Guatemala, at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), and at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) where accused persons were convicted on the basis of the testimony of survivors and witnesses alone.

Marcus made these observations while testifying before the Kenyan High Court on May 25. She was an expert witness for petitioners who want the government to be held responsible for its failure to protect its citizens against sexual and gender-based crimes during the violence that erupted … Continue Reading

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Witness: The State Must Protect Its Citizens, Even During Conflict

Rashida Manjoo, a former United Nations special rapporteur, told the Kenyan High Court the State had an obligation to protect the rights of its citizens even during a conflict.
Manjoo made her observation while testifying on May 23 in a case brought by survivors of sexual and gender-based violence committed during the conflict that erupted after the December 2007 election.

The case resumed after more than a month’s break. The last hearing was held on April 15 but it was closed to the public. The hearing before that, on April 14, was open to the public and a summary of it can be read here.

In the hearing of May 23, Manjoo was called to testify as an expert witness by the petitioners. … Continue Reading

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What Next, For the Victims of Kenya’s Post-Election Violence?

Please find below a commentary written by Emily Kenney, a consultant on transitional justice at UN Women. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

On April 5, 2016, Trial Chamber V of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided by majority to terminate the case against William Samoie Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang. The defendants had been accused of crimes against humanity in relation to Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence. While the ICC may never determine the identity of those responsible for these crimes (the Ruto and Sang decision is currently open for appeal, and the ICC’s investigation in Kenya is still technically ongoing), there is no doubt that the … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Kenyan Court that Mental Health of People Displaced from their Homes Remains Fragile Years after Post-Election Violence

A psychologist told the Kenyan High Court that people displaced from their homes during the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential election continue to experience general anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder years later.

Dinah Kituyi, a counseling psychologist, shared her conclusions during an April 21 hearing into a petition filed by 25 individuals displaced from their homes (IDPs) between December 2007 and February 2008.

Three organizations that assist IDPs are also part of the petition, which was filed in 2011. These are the Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya, the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists, and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

The petitioners are asking the court to do several things, including declaring the government responsible for the violence and displacement … Continue Reading

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In Kenyan Court, Witnesses Say Post-Election Violence Victims Remain Traumatized

Two witnesses told the High Court of Kenya that victims of sexual and gender-based violence remained traumatized from the abuse they suffered during the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential election.

On Thursday, April 14, the witnesses testified before High Court Judge Issac Lenaola. During the post-election violence period, they worked for the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Center at Kenyatta National Hospital, the country’s main referral hospital, and years after that.

Social worker and trauma counselor Theresa Njore and retired nurse Elizabeth Mukhisa were testifying in a hearing on a petition eight SGBV victims and four non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have filed.

The petitioners, which include the NGOs Coalition on Violence Against Women, Independent Medico-Legal Unit, the Kenyan Section of the International Commission … Continue Reading

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Dissenting Judge Said Majority Did Not Stick to Earlier Decision on “No Case to Answer” Motions

Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia based her dissenting opinion on a previous decision the trial chamber made setting out the criteria it would use to assess any “no case to answer” motion in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang.

Judge Carbuccia dissented from the majority decision of Trial Chamber V(a), which terminated the case against Ruto and Sang and vacated the three counts of crimes against humanity they had faced for their alleged roles in the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential election in Kenya.

The decision she referred to is from June 3, 2014 in which Trial Chamber V(a) set out the framework to determine the merits of a “no case to answer” motion.

In that June … Continue Reading

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Why ICC Judges Did Not Acquit Ruto and Sang

Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have declined to acquit Kenya’s Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang because of interference with prosecution witnesses and attempts to meddle in the case.

In a 2-1 majority decision issued on Tuesday, April 5, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji and Judge Robert Fremr terminated the case against Ruto and Sang and vacated the three charges of crime against humanity they were on trial for because the prosecution’s case had broken down and the evidence against the two was weak. Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia dissented.

The judges made their decisions in response to defense applications arguing that Ruto and Sang did not have a case to answer following the conclusion of the prosecution’s case. … Continue Reading

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