Waki inquiry receives evidence in camera

July 16, 2008 12:00 am
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, NAIROBI, July 16 – The Waki Commission probing post-election violence adjourned public hearings Wednesday morning to receive evidence from rape survivors.

Justice Philip Waki, who is chairing the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV), ruled that the women be heard in camera due to the nature of the evidence.

"Our counselor has advised that evidence from these witnesses be heard in camera. This is a request from the witnesses themselves. We therefore adjourn until noon," Waki ruled without disclosing the number of women.

Only professional counselors and lawyers representing the women were allowed to attend the private hearings at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).

Even a lawyer representing the Kenya Police whose officers have already been implicated in much of the rape incidents was not allowed to attend the in-camera hearings.

The Kenya Police is represented at the commission by lawyer Evans Monari.

Evidence received from three Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) led by the Federation of Women Lawyers showed that up to 600 people including men, women and children were sexually assaulted during protests that broke out after the disputed Presidential elections.

Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Care International and the National Campaign on Gender and Development said much of the rapes were perpetrated by officers from the General Service Unit (GSU) and regular police.

Reports tabled at the commission showed that 337 of those abused sexually were women while 275 are children. 44 include men who were sodomized.

Nairobi alone reported 275 rape cases and the victims were treated at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital.

Care International’s Chairperson Millicent Obaso blamed the police and organized gangs for most of the rape incidents that occurred.

She said they had evidence showing that up to 76 per cent of the rape incidents were committed by the General Service Unit (GSU) officers.

"It is horrifying because many of the incidents occurred in full view of spouses and their children," she said.

In fact, she added, there are situations where mothers were raped alongside their daughters.

Care International says 54 of the cases were reported at health centers, 23 per cent to the police, 15 per cent to local chiefs while 8 per cent were not reported to any authorities.

"Some of the victims are ready to testify before this commission either in camera or private," said FIDA’s Executive Director Jane Onyango of FIDA, prompting Wednesday’s adjournment of public hearings.

Many of the women who were raped, she said, know their perpetrators and are even prepared to testify.

Onyango proposed that the commission recommends the exclusion of known perpetrators from any form of amnesty.

"My lords, these are people who should be prosecuted. They should not be included at all in the amnesty programme," she said, in an apparent reference to the raging debate on whether or not to grant perpetrators of the post election violence amnesty.

Dr Regina Karega of the National Campaign on Gender and Development said her organization had documented a list of some of the rapists, mainly in Nairobi and the Rift Valley Province.

When taken to task to explain whether she would produce the names before the commission, she said; “My lords, we have the names and some of the women who were raped will provide them before you.”

Care International’s Chairperson Mildred Obaso said many of the reported rape cases occurred at residential homes.

"Cases which went unreported were a result of fear or stigmatization because many women and children are still traumatized. They are bleeding in their hearts," Obaso said.

Each of the organization produced well documented power point presentations which showed women wailing in villages after the rape incidents.

Some of the images showed bodies of women and children burnt or hacked to death after being raped.

The organizations pleaded with the commission to make arrangements for comprehensive compensations to all victims of sexual abuse during the post election violence.

"Besides just prosecuting their perpetrators my lords, we recommend that these victims be compensated," Obaso said without elaborating on the kind of compensation they are recommending.NAIROBI, July 16 – The Waki Commission probing post-election violence adjourned public hearings Wednesday morning to receive evidence from rape survivors.

Justice Philip Waki, who is chairing the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV), ruled that the women be heard in camera due to the nature of the evidence.

Waki only allowed professional counselors and lawyers representing the women to attend the private hearings at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

Evidence received from three non-governmental organizations led by the Federation of Women Lawyers, showed that up to 600 people including men, women and children were sexually assaulted during protests that broke out after the disputed presidential elections.

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