Kenya: Victims still seeking justice for the post-election violence

The Kenyan government’s continued failure to properly investigate crimes committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence and to provide justice and reparation for its victims is having a devastating impact on their lives and livelihoods, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

‘Crying for justice: Victims’ perspectives on justice for the post-election violence in Kenya’, provides powerful evidence of the ongoing suffering of Kenyans caught up in the violence which claimed 1,100 lives, displaced 660,000 and left thousands with long term injuries.

“Six years after post-election violence rocked Kenya, the victims are still awaiting justice. It is vital that their voices are heard and urgent action is taken,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, in Nairobi to launch the report.

“Many of the displaced have yet to be resettled or compensated, many of the injured or the families of those killed have yet to receive reparation to help rebuild their shattered lives and most of the perpetrators have yet to face justice.”

The report, based on interviews with victims of the violence and consultations with numerous civil society groups, found that many victims are desperate for assistance to help them recover from injuries sustained and property and livelihoods destroyed in the violence which swept the country between December 2007 and February 2008. Resettlement programmes have only targeted some communities whilst neglecting others.

Victims feel disillusioned with and excluded from the justice system and frustrated that perpetrators are still at large. “I know the people who took my property in Kericho. Our children were raped and we know who raped them,” Samuel from Kisii told Amnesty International.

Amnesty International’s research indicates that some victims did not go to the police because they feared reprisals from those committing the violence or abuse at the hands of the police. Some victims said that when they attempted to report to the police they were asked for money, or were threatened with being implicated in some of the crimes they had witnessed. According to the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence (known as the Waki Commission), the police were responsible for 405 of the 1,113 deaths.

One woman told Amnesty International that she had been attacked by men wielding machetes in Mathare. As she was fleeing a police officer stopped his car and picked her up. Rather than offering her protection, he took her to his home and raped her. She is now living with HIV and she has given up on attempts to report the policeman, who is stationed nearby.

The failure by police to investigate crimes is reflected in reports that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has recently stated, after reviewing more than 4,000 files related to the post-election violence, there was insufficient evidence to proceed with any cases. Given the government’s unwillingness to address impunity, most of the victims interviewed were supportive of the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite the fact that the two current cases before the Court are limited in scope.

The government has also initiated political efforts and supported efforts by the African Union (AU) to undermine the work of the ICC and stop the ICC’s cases, including by: calling on the UN Security Council to terminate or defer the Kenyan cases before the ICC; promoting non-cooperation with the ICC; and proposing amendments that seek to undermine the effectiveness of the ICC.

Despite Kenya’s categorical failure to address fully the needs of hundreds of thousands of victims of the post-election violence the report nonetheless finds that there remains potential to rebuild confidence in the justice system. Amnesty International is calling for:

the establishment of the Committee for the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission; greater protection of victims, witnesses and human rights defenders working on post-election violence and advocating for justice, truth and reparation; further investigations into the 4,000 case files that the DPP reportedly stated lack sufficient evidence; consultation with civil society on the establishment of the International Crimes Division of the High Court to ensure its independence and legitimacy the establishment of a reparation programme to address the harm suffered by victims of post-election violence; the Kenyan government’s full cooperation with the ICC; and an end to political efforts at the African Union to halt the ICC’s investigations and prosecutions in Kenya. 

“Justice delayed is justice denied and the victims of Kenya’s post-election violence have waited long enough to see justice,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Regional Director for East Africa at Amnesty International.

“In the past both the Kenyan government and parliament have consistently obstructed efforts to investigate and prosecute those suspected of committing crimes under international law. It is time to end impunity, to provide reparation for those who have suffered and to finally bring this shameful chapter in our history to a close.”


Victims who met with Amnesty International were from some of the worst affected areas of the post-election violence: Nairobi, Naivasha and Nakuru (Central Rift Valley), Eldoret (West Rift Valley), Kericho (South Rift Valley), Kisumu and Kisii (Nyanza). They included internally displaced persons, victims of police shootings or their relatives, survivors of rape and victims beaten by groups of men, some of whom were suspected to be from the criminal gang and political militia known as Mungiki.

The report is based on in-depth interviews Amnesty International conducted with 49 victims of the post-election violence from October to December 2013.

Of the 49 victims interviewed by Amnesty International, 35 had attempted to report the crimes they had suffered and in only one case did the police take action.

Many rapes have gone unreported and there are some estimates that as many as 40,000 incidents of sexual and gender-based violence linked to the post-election violence took place in the first few months of 2008, far higher than the 900 cases reported to the Waki Commission.

The police have conducted some investigations into post-election violence but  only very few of the cases investigated have resulted in prosecutions and most of those were for minor offences.

Violence erupted between groups supporting Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU), who was declared the winner of the presidential elections and his main rival Raila Odinga, leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and was particularly concentrated in Kenya’s Rift Valley and in the west of the country.

Two cases concerning the post-election violence are currently before the ICC. President Kenyatta and Deputy-President Ruto, who were both senior political figures at the time of the post-election violence, are accused of crimes against humanity including murder, forcible population transfer, and persecution along with Ruto’s co-accused, former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. President Kenyatta is also accused of responsibility for rape and other inhumane acts – including forced circumcision and penile amputation – carried out by the Mungiki, a criminal gang.  In both cases the OTP alleges witness interference and intimidation, leading to a number of witnesses withdrawing.

Many victims interviewed raised concerns that the charges in the two cases currently before the ICC do not cover the crimes they suffered. Amnesty International recommends that the ICC Prosecutor considers expanding its investigations into the 2007-2008 post-election violence but notes that the ICC will never be able to prosecute more than a representative number of cases. The Kenyan authorities are ultimately responsible to investigate the crimes that the ICC does not address.

Many victims want to engage with the ICC’s cases and to be informed about the cases, even if they do not address their crimes. Amnesty International urged the ICC to expand its outreach activities and to ensure that legal representative of victims participating in the cases are provided with sufficient resources to meet regularly with and represent their clients.