Members of the Fourth Estate;
Invited Guests from the Development Partners Community;
Our Key Note Speaker; Ms. Marcella Favretto from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
My fellow KNCHR Commissioners; The CEO
The Commission Secretariat and KNCHR Staff Members;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
“…sexual violence after the election was just one more unspeakable aspect of the violence that engulfed Kenya following the 2007 election and could do so again unless checked immediately.”
Distinguished guests, colleagues, members of the fourth estate,
These words were immortalized a decade ago by the then Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence (CIPEV) in the famous Waki report and like prophecy, it has regrettably come to haunt us as country.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, as you are aware monitored the 2017 elections starting with the party primaries through the campaigns to the poll process and thereafter the fresh Presidential poll and the post-election scenarios.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As a result of the monitoring exercise, the KNCHR published 3 election reports that gives a human rights account of the different cycles of the 2017 General Election namely; The Fallacious Vote: A Human Rights Account of the 2017 Political Party Primaries, Mirage at Dusk: A Human Rights Account of the 2017 General Election, Still a mirage at Dusk: A Human Rights Account of the 2017 Fresh Presidential Elections.
It is worth noting that KNCHR at the onset of the elections monitoring project had not purposed to keenly focus on SGBV issues, though our monitoring system had taken care of the same through an early warning system. However, on 11th August 2017, when IEBC announced the Presidential results, KNCHR received distress calls from different parts of Kenya especially Nairobi, Nyanza and Western. Initial information received then was that men and youth were being mobilized to go out and protest the election results. On the other hand, women were calling to seek help as both the protesters and security agents targeted them - sexually violating them and children.
KNCHR, could not ignore such serious allegations.
While these claims could not be ascertained at the time, KNCHR, through a press statement released on the following day (12th August, 2017) raised the red flag that sexual violence was being used as a tool of conflict in the electoral process.
Consequently, KNCHR alarmed by the increasing number of complaints embarked on separately investigating and documenting cases of rape, defilement and sodomy. It was very devastating.
KNCHR deliberately documented cases that had a bearing on the political process and therefore engineered an internal monitoring system which synthesized the information received and which the technical team used to ensure that all cases admitted reached the highest level of threshold as set by the Kenyan law.
In our findings the majority of the survivors came from informal settlements where fierce protests and equally, highhanded measures to quell the same were witnessed. While there could be more counties where sexual violence took place, the KNCHR’s zeroed in on nine (9) counties of Nairobi, Kisumu, Vihiga, Kakamega, Migori, Siaya, Busia, HomaBay and Bungoma and one (1) case each in the Machakos and Uasin Gishu Counties.
KNCHR recorded a total of 201 sexual offences cases that emanated from the 2017 electoral violence. It is noteworthy to put on record that the 201 sexual violence cases are not conclusive and are a record of survivors who courageously shared their ordeals with KNCHR.
As per our findings, the most affected were women at 96.26% while men were at 3.74%. It is despicable to report that, older persons were not spared with KNCHR recording the eldest survivor being a 70-years-old female and a 68-years-old male who were sexually violated.
The innocence and decency of young children was thrown out of the window with as young at seven (7) years old having to face the brutality and callousness of men who chose to defy nature and pounce on helpless, tender and innocent minors. For some children who were spared of actual bodily harm, they were forced to watch as their parents were subjected to heinous sexual assaults that they could barely comprehend.
The statements recorded by the KNCHR show that the security agents were the major perpetrators of sexual violence at 54.55%, and civilians at 45.45%.
This is an alarming trend!
It is expected that in moments of conflict, the security agencies should be at the forefront offering protection to civilians and arresting the perpetrators for prosecution. A situation whereby the security agencies are the perpetrators as was the case in 2007/2008 General Election and as was repeated in the 2017 process and worry for all Kenyans.
It has been in the public domain that other forms of electoral violence including loss of lives, destruction of property, hate speech have been over reported, sexual violence remains a foggy matter with a lot of people either not accepting or acknowledging that it happened. Equally, most of the survivors either for fear of shame, repercussions or ignorance have not been able to raise their voices loud enough.
Sexual violence is one of the most egregious forms of human rights violations and no Kenyan should suffer this violation on account of disagreements arising out of political contests. It is on this note that KNCHR today launches the report aptly titled Silhouettes of Brutality with an aim to clear the smokescreen and create a clear motif of the perpetrators and demand for accountability.
As KNCHR, we a glad to report that with support from our partners, we put through all the survivors and some of their affected relatives, through professional psychosocial support. Moreover, those who were in dire need of specialized medical care to restore eyesight, diagnostic tests and prescription of the necessary medication benefited from the same.
The report raises various issues and also gives a recommendations to various actors and it is our hope that they will be picked and implemented as necessary.
KNCHR as noted earlier, the 201 cases documented in this report are just a fraction and believes that many survivors are still hurting in silence and require medical care, counselling and restoration of their sources of livelihoods.
With the report that we are launching this morning; we mention a number of actors who we call upon to live up to their mandates and ensure that all victims receive justice. We remain hopeful that this report will receive the necessary attention from the duty bearers and lastly, remain hopeful too, that no other Kenyan will experience such brutality in future electoral processes.
Thank you very much.
Chairperson, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights