Chief Justice Martha Koome has advocated for enhanced efficiency in investigating incidents of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and elimination of delays in hearing and determination of the cases in court.
The Chief Justice voiced concern over statistics by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) ‘Demographic and Health Survey’ (2014), which show that 45pc of women and girls aged between 15 and 49 have experienced physical violence, while 14pc have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.
“This situation is alarming and unacceptable given the serious toll that SGBV inflicts on survivors. SGBV causes physical, psychological, and emotional harm to our women, men, girls, and boys and often leads to stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion,” she said. this on Tuesday at the start of the inaugural Sexual and Gender-Based Violence National Conference.
Koome spoke during the inaugural two-day Sexual and Gender-Based Violence National Conference under the theme: ‘Enhancing Administration and Access to Justice for Victims of SGBV.’
The Chief Justice underscored the importance of proficiency in interventions by agencies in the justice sector, which is the key that bridges the gap between survivors’ trauma and hope for a better tomorrow.
“We must focus on enhancing our capacity to manage and protect evidence – the irrefutable voice that speaks the truth about an incident. This calls for familiarity with witnesses and proper handling of evidence according to best practice standards,” said Koome.
She added that justice actors’ frontline teams must adopt Active Case Management methods to identify and mitigate barriers to access to justice including reducing delays in investigations, hearing and determination of cases.
The CJ said that a proper knowledge of gender dynamics and a compassionate, respectful and trauma-informed approach should be the foundation upon which trust will be built with the victims.
“I want to reassure Kenyans that we remain committed to enhancing our efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with SGBV cases from upstream at the police level to downstream after sentencing and reintegration.”
She recalled that the Judiciary launched the Social Transformation through Access to Justice SGBV Court Strategy in June this year to guide the process of rolling out trauma-informed courts that will ensure expeditious and tailor-made justice to survivors.
Koome also said the Judiciary has rolled out 12 specialised Sexual and Gender-Based Violence courts across the country targeting hot spot areas, following the success of the pilot court in Shanzu, Mombasa
European Union (EU) Ambassador to Kenya Ms. Henriette Geiger said, “The judiciary, is one of the key stakeholders for this new programme, people should dictate their efforts to the multi stakeholder coordination and enforcement of Anti FGM legislation in the county.”
“The European Union has developed a gender action plan that gives the policy framework for us and all of our members are working hard towards the success of the programme,” said Geiger.
Geiger emphasized that she would like to specifically make the programme work by lobbying for women’s rights at all levels.