Probe into poll rape cases begins

October 28, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, October 28 – Survivors of rape and other sexual violence crimes committed during the post election violence will now have an opportunity to report the offenders to a special police task force.

The body inaugurated on Tuesday comprises senior female police officers headed by Eastern Provincial CID chief Lilian Kiamba.

Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali said the team will mainly concentrate in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Nairobi Provinces and is expected to compile evidence and initiate prosecutions on perpetrators.

“It is never too late to prosecute these crimes. Our officers will gather all available evidence and ensure justice prevails,” the Commissioner said when he inaugurated the team at Police headquarters.

The Task Force is only mandated to investigate sexual offence crimes which were committed during the post election period.

The formation of the task force is seen as part of efforts by the police force to redeem its image after they were roundly criticised by the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) which called for drastic reforms in the force.

The report by the team headed by Justice Philip Waki called for changes in the force’s top leadership which was accused of having failed in their duty, leading to the death of nearly 1,500 people and displacement of many more other people.

The report also castigated the police for having failed to document rape cases in various parts of the country and even accused them of having turned away many of the victims who went to report the cases.

While inaugurating the Task Force on Tuesday, the police chief steered clear of the Waki report and even declined to answer any question from journalists, only limiting the session to the activities of the day.

Mr Ali instead, chose to emphasise the need to respect the dignity of women which he vowed to protect.

“Any form of sexual violence against women constitutes extremely serious crimes that deserve urgent and expedited action because it is an assault on the dignity of a human being,” he said.

In his testimony to the Waki commission in August, Mr Ali had denied allegations levelled against his officers of having turned away rape victims and insisted that there were no such occurences.

The Federation of Women Lawyers Executive Director Patricia Nyaundi who attended the inauguration of the team at Vigilance House on Tuesday said the organisation would work closely with the police in carrying out investigations on the crimes.

She said that although many of the crimes under investigations had been committed nine months ago, there was still evidence that can sustain cases in court.

“Let no one castigate this team because its formation is a noble idea. Survivors of sexual violence have not recovered from the atrocities committed on them and that is why we still believe there is much more evidence,” she said.

Ms Nyaundi said her officers would work closely with the police to ensure even law enforcement agents who are culpable were not spared.

“Our officers are going to be involved in this matter and we will ensure all those implicated are prosecuted,” she said.


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