Special courts for SGBV cases historic move

Chief Justice Martha Koome

Chief Justice Martha Koome. She has fulfilled one of the human rights advocates’ wishes; sexual and gender-based violence courts.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

In a society where human rights abuses are the norm, the plight of survivors is compounded by a broken legal system. This has made justice to be unattainable for survivors. Women’s rights advocates have consistently made the call to save survivors from extended psychological trauma and costly litigation.

Chief Justice Martha Koome has fulfilled one of the human rights advocates’ wishes: sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) courts. This is, undoubtedly, a signature legacy decision that puts her tenure in the spotlight for good reasons.

The long wait for justice, which opens a window from further compromising the survivor in the course of the litigation process, could soon end. The veracity of the SGBV cases always gets lost in the courts, where they are bundled with unrelated ones. These courts are a light in the litigation and justice pathway. They provide a key building block to the making of a better society.

Expeditiously handled

First, a SGBV case can now be expeditiously handled, away from the schedule of competing court cases. This is a win for both the survivors and the judicial system. Survivors will get timely justice; by concluding cases faster, the courts will win back goodwill and public trust. More importantly, the CJ pronounced herself on the adoption of the ‘no adjournment policy’ by the courts.

Secondly, it will allow the Judiciary to allocate resources to making the SGBV Courts effective. This is great as there will be clarity on what need to be supported to decisively deal with perpetrators in the judicial system. The courts have previously decried lack of adequate resources.

Thirdly, the special courts will give the survivors and others involved protection from the exposure of mental harm that comes with SGBV cases. The impact of protracted litigation and the associated psychosocial challenges victims and families face will be reduced significantly.

As the CJ said, the SGBV courts will provide a coordinated structure that preserves the dignity of victims and enhances fair trial within the tenets of the Constitution. This is the hallmark of a progressive society.

Mr Okore is a communications and public policy consultant. [email protected] @jasigana254


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