Kenyan rape victims of post-poll violence seek justice

Victims of sexual violence outside the High Court on April 13, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya prior to attending their trial to compel the government to address post-election violence in 2007-08
AFP

Nairobi (AFP) – Eight Kenyans sexually assaulted during sweeping post election violence in 2007-08 appealed in court Wednesday for the government to take action to ensure justice.

The group of six women and two men filed a petition at Kenya’s High Court demanding the government address cases of sexual violence during unrest after disputed elections in which some 1,200 people died.

It was Kenya’s worst wave of violence since independence from Britain in 1963.

The hearing comes a week after charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Deputy President William Ruto were dropped, as also happened to crimes against humanity charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta. 

Both cases were littered with allegations of witness intimidation, bribery and false testimony.

The Kenyans, who are seeking “truth, justice and reparations from the state”, have asked the court to find that the violence carried out were crimes against humanity – and that the government must therefore ensure all efforts are made to prosecute those responsible.

Some 50 supporters who said they also suffered sexual or other violence held banners outside the court in support of the case.

“The survivors want the truth about what happened to them known; and they want the state to acknowledge that they suffered,” the group said in a statement.

“We stand in solidarity with eight survivors who were brutally gang-raped and forcibly circumcised,” the statement said, adding that they were an “emblematic representation of thousands of other women, girls, men and boys who suffered similar violations.”

Only a handful of people have been prosecuted for the 2007-08 violence. After charges were dropped against Ruto, the government repeated promises to ensure victims of the violence are compensated.

“We now ask all Kenyans of goodwill and citizens of the world elsewhere to join our voices in our demands for justice,” the victims’ statement read.

“Victims and survivors cannot live on the repetition of hollow political promises and empty rhetoric – our lives are at a standstill. We deserve justice, and the need for us, too, to reach closure over what happened to us has never been more urgent.”

The case, which first opened on March 2014, continues.

Kenyatta and Ruto are due on Saturday to address a rally in the central Kenyan town of Nakuru, at a reconciliation and thanksgiving prayer service following the ICC ruling.

Kenya’s next elections are due on August 8, 2017, and many see Saturday’s rally as the first step of their campaign for reelection. 

Kenyatta won the March 2013 polls by more than 800,000 votes ahead of his nearest rival, outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

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