COVAW, IMLU et al. v Attorney-General of Kenya et al.

Eight individuals, two male and six females, who were subjected to sexual violence during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007/2008, are seeking justice and reparation before the High Court of Kenya.

THE EVENTS

Following the announcement of election results in Kenya on 30 December 2007, widespread violence erupted throughout Kenya until March 2008.

Both women and men experienced different forms of sexual violence and gender-based violence (SGBV). Women were subjected to rape, attempted rape, defilement, attempted defilement, and gang rape. Men experienced sodomy, forced circumcision and amputation of their penises.

The police often refused to document and investigate reports of SGBV victims. Access to medical services was sometimes denied by the state-run hospitals.

Perpetrators of SGBV included members of the Kenya Police Service, Administrative Police and other state security agents as well as non-state actors.

These conflict-related SGBV crimes have not been sufficiently investigated or prosecuted by Kenyan authorities and victims have not received any form of reparation.

ACTION FOR JUSTICE

On 20 February 2014, four Kenyan civil society organisations, together with eight SGBV survivors filed a constitutional petition at the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court of Kenya in Nairobi.

The four Kenyan civil society organisations are: Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW),The Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU), Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

The petition is directed against a number of national authorities. These include: The Attorney General of Kenya, the Director of Public Prosecution of Kenya, the Independent Police Oversight Authority, the Inspector-General of National Police Service of Kenya, the Minister for Medical Services of Kenya, and the Minister for Public Health and Sanitation of Kenya.

The petitioners claim that Kenyan authorities failed to protect civilians during the post-election violence in 2007/2008 when numerous forms of SGBV were committed against women, men, girls and boys.

They also claim that authorities have not fulfilled their obligation to investigate and prosecute SGBV crimes afterwards and to provide reparations to the victims.

On 27 August 2014, REDRESS was granted leave to file an amicus curiae brief on the international legal framework as well as international and regional jurisprudence on the state obligation towards SGBV victims, with a focus on reparation measures.

THE OUTCOMES

Case pending

QUICK FACTS

  • Court/Body: Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court of Kenya
  • Case Name: COVAW, IMLU and Others v. Attorney-General of Kenya and Others
  • Date Filed: 20 February 2014
  • Current Status: Case pending
  • Legal representation: COVAW, IMLU, ICJ, PHR

KEY WORDS

Sexual violence refers to any act of a sexual nature which is perpetrated by force, threat, coercion, or by taking advantage of a coercive environment or the victim’s incapacity to give genuine consent.

Sexual violence in conflict refers to sexual violence that is committed in the context of an international or non-international armed conflict, under an oppressive regime or in any other situation of mass human rights abuses.

Gender-based violence (GBV) refers to any intentional act or omission that causes physical, psychological or other forms of harm perpetrated on the basis of discriminatory gender roles and unequal power relationships or that disproportionately affect women and girls.

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a combined term for the two forms of violence described above with GBV and sexual violence often overlapping.

Amicus curiae means a person or group who is not a party to a lawsuit but who offers independent expertise to the court on specific matters relevant to the lawsuit at hand.