Kenya: Ensure justice for 16-year-old Liz & all victims of sexual violence

28 March 2014 Update: Thank you to the thousands of supporters who have taken action to demand Justice for Liz. Authorities took notice, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions initially issued public assurances that the case would proceed to court without further delay. However, following a hearing on 24 March 2014, it's clear that the authorities still aren't taking Liz’s case seriously. To date, only one of the  six suspects have been arrested, despite reports that their whereabouts are known, and the charge sheet still has not been amended to reflect rape or other crimes of sexual violence under the Sexual Offenses Act. Further, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority has not yet released their investigative report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by police officers handling this case, and no lawful action has been taken to address the police failures in this case.

The next hearing is scheduled for 8 April 2014 and we need your help! Please maintain pressure to obtain justice for Liz. Authorities must take immediate action to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors and victims.

Young protester at a Justice for Liz rally in Kenya. Photo courtesy of COVAW.
While returning home from a funeral in Busia County, Kenya in late June 2013, 16-year-old Liz was brutally gang raped and thrown, unconscious and battered, down a pit latrine. Three of the suspects were caught, but, astonishingly, the police recorded the attack as a mere “assault” and released the assailants after having them cut the police station grass as “punishment.” Tragically, as a result of the attack Liz was confined to a wheelchair and developed obstetric fistula, rendering her incontinent. Liz is now recovering after surgery and is receiving counseling, but has been unable to return to school due to her continued hospitalization.

Seven months after a global campaign, spearheaded in October 2013 by the Kenyan women’s NGOs, Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) and African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), acquired more than 1.5 million signatures demanding #JusticeForLiz, little progress has been made. The authorities have re-apprehended only one of the three original suspects, mitigated his criminal charge from rape to “causing grievous bodily harm,” and have not held any subsequent hearings. Furthermore, Inspector General of Police, David Kimaiyo, who admitted to erroneously “arbitrating” the case, has been engaging in victim-blaming and attacks on Liz’s credibility. The Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, whom the case was transferred to, has yet to release their report which was due 10 December 2013.

Tragically Liz’s experience is commonplace in Kenya, where 1 in 5 women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Therefore, please join Equality Now, our partners through the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) coalition, COVAW and FEMNET in calling for justice for Liz and all survivors and victims of sexual violence.

Please Take Action today by:

  • Calling on the officials below to take immediate steps  to arrest the five remaining suspects  and to ensure that the Sexual Offences Act is effectively implemented so that all cases of sexual violence are properly investigated and prosecuted.
  • Calling on the Director of Public Prosecutions amend the charges to include gang rape and other crimes of sexual violence as necessary.
  • Urging the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to investigate and report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by the police officers handling this case, and to take action against the police failures in this case.
  • Urging the government of Kenya to prioritize the training of law enforcement officials to ensure that sexual violence complaints are appropriately handled and that officials are equipped to deal with survivors of sexual violence by rectifying harmful behaviors that might further distress victims or impede their access to justice.
  • Taking part in the #JusticeForLiz social media campaign. Messages can also be re-tweeted from @equalitynow, @COVAW and @FemnetProg.

H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta

President of the Republic of Kenya

Hon. Prof Githu Muigai., M.P.

Attorney General

Hon. Joseph Ole Lenku

Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior & Coordination of National Government

Hon. Mr. Keriako Tobiko

Director of Public Prosecution

H.E. Ms Anne Waiguru

Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution & Planning

Hon Dr. Willy Mutunga

Chief Justice

Hon. Sospeter Odeke Ojaamong

Governor, Busia County

Ms. Patricia Nyaundi

Secretary to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association

Independent Policing Oversight Authority