The Access to Justice and Women’s Rights (AJWR) initiative seeks to ensure that women and girls whose rights have been violated overcome all legal, social, financial and structural barriers in the quest for justice. This initiative is premised on Article 48 on the Constitution of Kenya 2010 which reinforces the right of all persons to access justice without any impediments.

AJWR adopts an integrated services approach towards supporting survivors of violence: the services include legal, health and psychosocial support. COVAW continues to do so through maintaining a credible presence at Gender Based Violence Recovery Centers (“GBVRCs”) located within the Kenyatta National Hospital and Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi, Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital in Nakuru, as well as the Nyanza Provincial General Hospital in Kisumu.

With a target surpassed of reaching at least 400 women per year,  COVAW provides free legal aid to survivors of violence and facilitates court representation through the pro-bono advocates scheme where and when necessary. Particularly, COVAW has within its pro-bono advocates database a team of twenty three (23) advocates who provide assistance in litigation matters. In addition, COVAW has trained over two hundred (200) community paralegals who receive and manage cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence within their communities, as well as offer support to survivors of violence through the different points of service provision in order to ensure timely reporting of cases and appropriate collection and preservation of evidence for purposes of successful criminal litigation.

COVAW also continues to build the capacity of crucial service providers who a survivor is likely to encounter in the course of seeking justice. These service providers include:  law enforcement agents, health care service providers, members of cheap jerseys the provincial administration, prosecutors, magistrates and district children’s officers. Such capacity building is aimed at tackling structural and social challenges experienced by survivors of violence and often tied to negative attitudes and beliefs and/or lack of knowledge on GBV and relevant legal frameworks amongst these service providers.

Through the AJWR initiative, COVAW also conducts awareness forums and legal aid clinics through which women and girls are empowered with knowledge on their rights and reporting procedures upon violation.

Further, through partnerships with like-minded human rights organizations, COVAW contributes towards improved implementation of existing national, regional and international laws and policies as well as actively propelling legislative and policy amendments and/or development.

More recently, in February 2013, the AJWR initiative spear headed the filing of a public interest litigation through which six (6) women and two (2) men survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (“SGBV”) experienced during the 2007/08 Post Election Violence (“PEV”), together with 4 Civil Society Organizations (COVAW, ICJ – Kenya, Physicians for Human Rights and IMLU), sued the Government of Kenya. The 8 petitioners who form part of this Case are a representative constituent of the larger SGBV victim community who were violated during the 2007/2008 PEV. The petitioners were drawn from various parts of the country.

The petitioners claim that the government failed to properly train and prepare the police to protect civilians from sexual violence while it was occurring. In its aftermath, that the police refused and/or neglected to document and investigate claims of SGBV, leading to obstruction and miscarriage of justice. Furthermore, the government denied emergency medical services to victims at the time, and failed to provide necessary care and compensation to address their suffering and harm. Ultimately, the petitioners want the government to:

  • Publicly acknowledge and apologize to the victims for their failure to protect the rights of Kenyans;
  • Provide appropriate compensation, including psycho-social, medical, and legal assistance to the victims; to investigate the sexual violence and prosecute those who are responsible; and,
  • Establish a special team within the Department of Public Prosecutions to ensure that such investigations and prosecutions are credible and independent.

The respondents in the Case are the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Inspector General of the National Police Service and the Independent Police Oversight Authority, the Ministry of Medical Service and the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.