Kenya: Hope for SGBV Survivors as Conviction Rate for Perpetrators Rises

26 November 2020

For long, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the country have cried foul over the low rate or non-conviction of perpetrators.

The Judiciary and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) have been on the spotlight for delayed cases and shoddy investigations.

However, the situation could change if the latest report by the ODPP is anything to go by.

The report released last month shows convictions of perpetrators of sexual violence related cases has increased.

The report handed to President Kenyatta by DPP Noordin Haji shows a conviction rate of 78.5 per cent was attained in the 2019/2020 period, a 9.8 per cent increase from an average of 69 per cent conviction rate in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019.

Below target

It was, however, slightly below the target of 80 per cent for this category of cases.

Defilement and attempted defilement accounted for 65 per cent of the cases, rape 13.72 per cent and indecent act with a child 7.8 per cent.

There were 4,088 new cases registered and 1,985 sexual violence-related cases concluded during the period 2019/2020.

Speaking during the event at State House Nairobi, President Kenyatta encouraged the ODPP to focus on the successful prosecution of cases, including the high profile ones.

"Confidence is a fleeting thing. If people don't see results, that confidence can also evaporate. It is, therefore, important that results are also shown to justify the investments we are putting in," he said.

Service delivery

Mr Haji said the ODPP has recorded improvement and had set up a prosecution training institute, noting that the focus of the agency was to enhance service delivery through automation of processes.

"To provide prosecutors with skills and knowledge to effectively and efficiently prosecute emerging and complex crimes, we have established the Prosecution Training Institute (PTI) and set up an e-library that will be the first of its kind in the East and Central African region," Mr Haji said.

Head of SGBV division at the ODPP Jacqueline Njagi recently observed that for sexual violence-related cases to be successful, adequate investigations are necessary.

Speaking during a webinar titled, Prosecution of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Kenya, and organised by the International Commission of Jurist - Kenya), Ms Njagi said the ODPP is working with the police service to ensure in-depth investigation is carried out on SGBV so that evidence in the cases is tight.

Special laboratory

She said lack of special police units trained to handle sexual violence cases was impacting on quality of investigations. "Lack of a special laboratory to deal with SGBV matters has been a major undoing in having intensive investigations. If investigation is shoddy, it is hard to get a conviction," she said.

Ms Njagi added that her office has been working with the police and doctors to ensure evidence is well packaged and preserved.

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