PJI is supporting accountability for post-election sexual violence in Kenya.

In partnership with U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Women, PJI is working with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the Independent Policing Oversight Agency (IPOA) to investigate the first crimes against humanity case to be brought in Kenyan national courts, incorporating a public-private partnership component involving civil society organisations.

The political history of Kenya reveals a pattern of extra-judicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, and corruption. Both colonial and post-colonial authorities committed or sanctioned such crimes, and perpetrators were never held accountable. It is this history of impunity that continues to empower the organisers and perpetrators of violence during election periods to commit atrocities with the confidence that they will never be investigated or prosecuted for their crimes. Of recent and worthy note, disputed elections in 2007 and 2017 were both marred by serious human rights violations, including unlawful killings and beatings by police during protests, sexual violence, and house-to-house operations in western Kenya.

The aim of this project is to deepen and widen the capacity of justice sector actors to address impunity for sexual violence and other serious human rights violations committed in the context of the Post-Election Violence (PEV) periods of 2007-8 and 2017. PJI is currently supporting the ODPP and IPOA as they prepare criminal cases involving serious human rights violations believed to have been committed by police during the second post-election violence (PEV) period.

PJI’s work on issues relating to accountability for grave human rights violations and international crimes in Kenya is built on the PJI legal team’s work with local actors in this country since 2014.

The results of this sustained engagement with local Kenyan practitioners are twofold: First, trial-ready dossiers have been prepared, facilitating prosecution. Second, a core group of trained investigators, prosecutors, and lawyers in the Kenyan legal community are now better prepared with the skills to investigate and build additional case files. These capacity-building partnerships thus continue to advance local accountability for serious violations of human rights, enabling local practitioners to bring long awaited justice for grave crimes in the jurisdiction where most of the victims still live.

In addition to PJI’s accompaniment work, in 2016 PJI lawyer Maxine Marcus testified as an expert witness in a constitutional human rights case in Kenya, in which victim plaintiffs alleged failure to investigate and prosecute acts of sexual violence by police during the first PEV period. In a landmark decision in this case, the Kenyan High Court ruled in favor of four survivors of post-election sexual violence in Kenya, finding that Kenya failed “to investigate and prosecute violations of the rights to life, the prevention of torture, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and the security of person.”

Learn more about the context of post-election sexual violence in Kenya.