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

24 JUNE 2014 UPDATE: Renewed call to Action! The trial for Liz’s case is scheduled to begin today and, though it’s been nearly a year, still only one of the five gang rape suspects has been arrested, despite community reports that the whereabouts of the remaining five are known. Please help us continue to demand justice for victims of sexual violence in Kenya and raise awareness on the systemic failures to address the problem in Busia County - the site of Liz’s attack and a region with a high prevalence of sexual violence against women and girls. On Monday 23 June, Equality Now, COVAW, Avaaz, REEP and the SOAWR coalition held a rally and community dialogue in Busia, to amplify our call for justice and for authorities to take sexual violence more seriously in Kenya, especially in Busia.

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 1.7 million signatures demanding #JusticeForLiz, little progress has been made. While the authorities took notice at first, their attention seems to have waned. In a press release earlier this year the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions issued assurances that Liz’s case would proceed to court without further delay. However, five of the six suspects identified still have not been arrested despite reports that their whereabouts are known. 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.

Much more must be done to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors. 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, and our partners through the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) Coalition - COVAW, FIDA-Kenya, FEMNET, Fahamu and IPAS - in calling for justice for Liz and for all survivors and victims of sexual violence.

Please Take Action today by:

  • Calling on the officials below to take immediate steps are taken to ensure timely justice for Liz, which includes arresting the five remaining suspects who are still at large so that the case can proceed with them present at the trial now scheduled for 24 June, 2014.
  • Calling on the officials below to ensure that the Sexual Offences Act is effectively implemented to ensure that all cases of sexual violence are properly investigated and prosecuted.
  • Urging the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to investigate and report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by police officers handling this case, and take necessary lawful action against police failures in this case.
  • Urging the government of Kenya to prioritize the training of law enforcement officials is prioritized to ensure that sexual violence complaints are appropriately handled and that they are equipped to deal with survivors and victims of sexual violence by rectifying harmful behaviours that might further distress victim 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