Since 2014, the PJI legal team has been working in Kenya to support accountability for post-election sexual violence.
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 and the Independent Policing Oversight Agency 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.
In the initial period of the work in Kenya, PJI lawyers partnered with local civil society investigators and legal practitioners in documenting cases involving sexual violence allegedly committed by Kenyan security forces in the context of the post-election violence of 2007 and 2008 (the first PEV period). More recently, the team has begun peer-to-peer mentoring with Kenyan prosecutors to address post-election sexual violence in 2017.
PJI lawyer Maxine Marcus worked with civil society organisations in Kenya to build and prepare a criminal case involving crimes of sexual violence allegedly committed by the police as part of a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population during the first PEV period. Each mission to Kenya built on the previous one, ensuring the development of a court-ready case file. Working together to investigate and prepare a complex criminal case involving international crimes of sexual violence, the collaboration helped to build the capacity of Kenyan lawyers and investigators.
In addition, Ms. Marcus testified as an expert witness in a constitutional human rights case, in which victim plaintiffs alleged failure to investigate and prosecute acts of sexual violence by police during the first PEV period. That case is ongoing in the High Court of Kenya.
More recently, the PJI legal team has been providing case-based support to the Kenyan Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). Working in tandem with the ODPP, the Kenyan National Police Service, and the Independent Policing Oversight Agency, PJI’s legal team has supported the development of Standard Operating Procedures for the Investigation of Serious Human Rights Violations. The team is also providing peer-to-peer legal advice to support local Kenyan prosecutors in preparing criminal cases involving serious human rights violations allegedly committed by police during the post-election violence period of 2017.
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 have thus advanced local accountability for serious violations of human rights allegedly committed by law enforcement in Kenya during the post-election violence periods, enabling local practitioners to bring long awaited justice for grave crimes in the jurisdiction where most of the victims still live.
This work has been carried out with the support of the Public International Law & Policy Group, UN Women, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Kenya.