The Court Users Committees (CUC’s) are a key avenue through which Kituo promotes access to justice for all. They are accessible and attempt to find and address the access to justice needs of court users.
Based on Kituo’s interactions with various Court Users Committees, Sexual Gender Based Violence cases remains a big challenge right from the provisions of the law (Sexual Offences Act, the Penal Code, the Constitution and the Family Protection Act and Children’s Act) and practice (filling in the P3 form, preservation of evidence, chain of evidence, complementary support such as psychological support during trial for Sexual Gender Based Violence victims, coordination and referrals)
Kituo conducted a capacity building session for CUC’s from the Nairobi region on the 2nd and 3rd of October. The members were drawn from Makadara, Kibera and the Milimani Law Courts.The training took place in Machakos County and a total of 30 participants were trained. Judges, Magistrates, officers from the office of the Deputy Public Prosecution, children officers, and community based paralegals were part of those trained.
Participants were trained on the legal framework on Sexual Gender Based Violence, practice in handling SGBV cases which included reporting and evidence protection, complementary support for the victims throughout the trial process and coordination between different actors like Deputy Public Prosecution’s office, police, advocates, magistrate, communities, Judiciary and NGO’s in making survivors access to justice a reality.
Participants too shared their experiences with such cases and the challenges they faced. One challenge that was cutting across from the magistrate to office of the Deputy Public Prosecution to the police and the Judiciary was the lack of coordination. The participants explained that most of cases take long because there is no coordination right from the Investigating officers. Challenges faced by Judiciary in addressing SGBV matters; Too busy with too many activities within the courts to listen to SGBV cases that is on the rise hence the need to increase personnel Lack of funding for witness protection mechanism Underutilized evidential tools Lack of compensation for the survivors/victims make most not turn up or get comprised Lack of coordination Lack of pre-trial preparations especially from the police and the DPP’s office Challenges faced by the office of the Deputy Public Prosecution in addressing SGBV matters; Coordination in filing of the P3 form and PRC forms Lack of compensation for the survivors Frequent transfers of investigating officers
It was really important to train the Court Users Committee to ensure that survivors are encouraged to report cases of Sexual Gender Based Violence and follow through the formal justice system. The participants agreed that they want SGBV survivors to be protected and to be included as active decision-makers within their societies. They agreed to work together to break the silence and stigma around SGBV, with the goal of creating strong, sustainable, cohesive and protective societies in which women and girls can flourish. They also added that working with the local communities is the best way to make long-lasting change and to reduce negative attitudes and behaviors around GBV and women’s rights.
The CUC’s Capacity Building and Learning Forums are ongoing and court users from other regions in the country will be engaged.
AGCP- Kituo Cha Sheria.