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Kiambu Law Courts lays out Strategies to handle SGBV

Kiambu law court is working on various strategies for handling Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) cases within the County.

According to Chief Magistrate Kiambu, Emily Ominde, Kiambu is one of the Counties where the SGBV cases are high in number and statistics showing that 17.7 percent of women were subjected to violence

Ominde was speaking yesterday during the launch of an e-filing system for 8 Kiambu court stations at the Kiambu Law Courts.

“Kiambu County has been identified as a hotspot with a lot of sexual gender-based violence cases and we have set up strategies on how we propose to handle these cases with necessary sensitivity it deserves considering that most of the victims of the SGBV are children,” she said.

Ominde explained that out of six courts at the law court, two courts will be handling SGBV cases from Monday to Friday and that files containing SGBV cases shall be color coded for ease of identification.

She further said that in consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) they will be registering and flagging out GBV cases by prioritizing them on the plea dates.

“The strategy plan is to complete the SGBV cases soonest so that we do not need to have a pre-trial thereafter. We shall allocate these cases to the trial court and immediately give them a priority date that is reasonable and practicable notwithstanding the workload.

She explained that they have agreed with other honorable colleagues to endeavor to finalize the said cases within 6 months.

The Magistrate also said that as a court, they have also laid out child justice strategies within the County.

“We already have a children’s court in Kiambu with a designated magistrate, senior principal and magistrate. We have already opened protection and care files for children in need of care and protection that is ongoing. It is two years old now and we have in place a pool of pro bono lawyers on children’s matters “said Ominde

She said the courts are also working with the office of the DPP to ensure that children’s cases first go through arbitration and mediation. The children’s cases should only come to court as a last resort and only on maintenance and custody should they appear in court.

She explained, “Immediately a case involving a child is registered, she is to be informed so that a pro bono lawyer is available to represent the child at the time of plea. SGBVcases documents should be ready, particularly for children in conflict with the law and if there is need for a hearing, they will be allowed necessary witness protection measures so that if at any given time they are not comfortable in testifying in the presence of the perpetrator, they are secured”.

Ominde said that they have already set up an electronic register for SGBV cases and that they are waiting for the first conviction after the rollout.

Justice Abigail Mshila the presiding Judge at Kiambu Law Courts stated that they are in full support of the SGBV Strategies.

“We welcome the unit in the Chief Magistrate’s court as this will align with the Judiciary’s strategic focus on transforming our justice system into one that prioritizes the needs as wellbeing of the people particularly the marginalized ones.

She expounded that they are looking to engage in conversation and outreach with Kiambu Women Rep Anne Wamuratha into the County Court Users Committees (CUCs) as SGBV is one of the pet issues she is so passionate about.

Mshila noted further that in the adoption of SGBV Strategies, Kiambu Law courts have opened a register for Home Visit Orders in adoption cases.

“When an order is given for a home visit to be carried out by the Department of Children Services this will be noted in the Register which will reflect the date of collection of the Order and date of filing of the Investigation Report. In case there is a delay, the officer will be summoned to explain. The strategies shall greatly enhance efficient delivery of justice”, Judge Mshila said.

Kiambu County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha said that there is a good relation and understanding between the Kiambu law Courts and the security agencies and that that they have partnered with all the stakeholders in the fight against SGBV cases and issues of child abuse.

According to the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey Kiambu and Nairobi counties have the highest occurrences of physical violence against women with some of the victims being as young as 15 years old.

By Elizabeth Wanja 

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