Survivors and civil society organizations today called on the Attorney General of Kenya to immediately enforce a 2020 High Court decision that found the government of Kenya liable for its failure to investigate and prosecute sexual violence in the wake of contested 2007–2008 presidential elections in the country. Speaking in Nairobi, eight survivors of the 2007–2008 post-election sexual violence urged Hon. Justin Muturi to implement the landmark decision, including by delivering to four of the survivor-petitioners compensation of KES 4,000,000 (approximately USD 26,000) that the Court ordered nearly three years ago.
“Why is the Government not taking our pain, and the violation seriously? I urge the Attorney General, and the Government to release the compensation. I fear I might die before getting the compensation, and my children will continue to suffer,” said one survivor-petitioner.
In a judgment in December 2020, the High Court in Nairobi ruled in favor of four of eight petitioners who are survivors of post-election sexual violence in Kenya. In Constitutional Petition No. 122 of 2013, the court awarded the four survivor-petitioners reparations due to the harms caused by Kenya’s government’s failure to investigate, prosecute, and end impunity for the sexual violence they experienced. The court’s decision and the compensation marked a major milestone for survivors in accessing justice and redress, providing hope to survivor-petitioners that they would finally receive relief after over a decade of suffering and government inaction.
However, nearly three years later, survivors have yet to receive their award, and they continue to grapple with the consequences of the sexual violence perpetrated over 15 years ago.
“It has taken so long to access justice, and this is an injustice to us! I can’t take care of my medical bills, I cannot afford counseling, and my children lack school fees. The violation was a huge set back, and to date I am grappling with the effects of the violation. I hope the Attorney General will hear our cry!” shared another survivor-petitioner.
On November 17, 2023, a petition was delivered on behalf of survivors to the Hon. Attorney General seeking immediate implementation of the court’s order. Survivors said that the enforcement of legal decisions is a right bestowed in the Kenyan Constitution and it should be realized without further delay. As a result of the violations they experienced, survivors have many unmet needs for medical care, including psychosocial support, underscoring the urgency for the Court to provide the monetary awards immediately.
“Survivors have waited more than 15 years for justice – enough is enough,” said Naitore Nyamu-Mathenge, LLM, MA, head of the Kenya office of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a co-petitioner in the case. “With each passing year, the trauma experienced by these brave survivors’ compounds. They face steep barriers to health care, healing, and livelihoods. Kenya’s Attorney General must act now to deliver the reparations awarded in the 2020 judgment. Do not delay further; act on the survivors’ cry for justice.”
The eight survivor-petitioners (six women and two men) of the post-election sexual violence are joined in the lawsuit by Physicians for Human Rights, the Coalition on Violence Against Women, the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya), and the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU). These four civil society organizations were the institutional petitioners in Petition 122 of 2013. These groups shared the following statements on today’s hearing:
“There is an urgent need to end and deter atrocities, crimes and impunity for international crimes. Accountability and redress mechanisms provided under domestic law and policy must be realized. ICJ-Kenya is appealing to the Attorney General to enforce the decision rendered in Petition 122 of 2013 as part of the Government’s long-standing commitment to support justice for victims of grave crimes, including the SGBV victims of the 2007/08 post-election violence,” said ICJ-Kenya.
“Justice delayed is justice denied; this adage is perhaps most apposite at the enforcement stage. It is unconscionable that since the High Court ordered compensation in 2020, the four survivors are still waiting for payment. Given the grave atrocities meted upon them, the Attorney General should prioritize the release of the funds,” added IMLU.
“16 years is too long a time to wait for justice to be served. With all of the requirements met, we call on the Office of the Attorney General to honor the decision of the court and support the implementation of the judgment in Petition 122 of 2013. Equality for all, justice for all!” said Yvonne Ayieke, executive director of Utu Wetu, an advocacy partner around the case.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.