Kenya: High Court: Police should investigate child sexual assaults

Many thanks to Michelle Hayman, a second-year law student who provides research assistance to our International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, for summarizing this case for REPROHEALTHLAW readers.

C.K. (a child) (Through Ripples International As Her Guardian And Next Friend) & 11 Others  v.  Commissioner of Police/Inspector General of the National Police Service,  & 3 Others [2013] eKLR  decision online

In this important case, the High Court of Kenya found that police failure to conduct proper investigations into sexual assault cases concerning children infringed on the victims’ fundamental freedoms under the Constitution of Kenya. The Court held there is a duty for the police “to conduct prompt, effective, proper and professional investigations” into complaints of sexual assault against children.

The case concerned eleven children who were victims of “defilement” (“an act which causes penetration with a child”) and other forms of sexual violence and child abuse between 2008 and 2012.  Each had reported the acts to police stations within Meru County, but the police officers refused or failed to conduct proper investigations into the crimes, in some cases asking for money before they would assist the claimant.

The High Court found that the police’s unlawful, inexcusable and unjustifiable failure to conduct “prompt, effective, proper and professional investigations” into these cases, not only caused “grave harm” to the victims but also “created a climate of impunity for defilement”. The Court further found the police directly responsible for any psychological harm caused by their actions.

In finding this decision, the Court relied on domestic and international law, including the Constitution of Kenya, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The full text of the decision is online here.


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