There is no one who epitomizes the utter refusal of the Kenya government and the Kenya police to investigate and prosecute the more than 6000 post election violence cases than Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo. His recent response to public outcry over the miscarriage of justice done in the case of a teenage girl who was gang raped and then thrown into a pit latrine just says it all. Kimaiyo implied that the girl was lying.
Never mind the fact that she is now confined to a wheel chair. Never mind the fact that the rapists were made to slash grass rather than jailed. Never mind the 1 million signatures collected in a petition or the protests. Never mind the facts that even the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has directed that the case be sent to the National Council for the Administration of Justice. According to Kimaiyo, the girl was lying about her ordeal and the matter was settled between the parents of the rapists and her own parents so there really is no case.
To accuse a defenseless teenage victim of gang rape of lying underscores the shameful rape culture that is so pervasive in Kenya. For a chief of police to even utter such an accusation sheds light on exactly how unwilling the police are to investigate and prosecute cases of rape, and it also gives insight to how much injustice is delivered by the very same law enforcement agency we turn to.
5 years down the line and the thousands of victims of the 2008 post election violence have not seen their tormentors prosecuted. Of the more than 6000 cases reported thus far, only 24 have reached trial. This is not a matter of lack of evidence, because there is evidence, but it is a matter of an obstinate refusal to allow the course of justice to be followed. By Inspector General Kimaiyo’s example, our police force not only refuses to pursue the criminals, but in turn harass the victims.
This is more than a case of putting one’s foot in the mouth. Kimaiyo expresses the deeply entrenched misogyny and abuse of power by the police force. The police are not the ones to judge a reported incident, but to investigate, collect evidence and proceed to trial. Instead, in the case of Liz from Busia, the police refused to arrest the rapists, refused to investigate the incident, refused to collect evidence and let the perpetrators of an attempted murder go!
It is the same obstruction of justice that has led victims of the PEV to reach out to the ICC in the hope that somehow they will receive justice. The situation surrounding the crimes committed after the 2007 general elections and the reaction of the police to those reported crimes is telling of a systematic collusion to prevent justice for the victims of those crimes.
To deny justice on such a wide scale makes one as culpable of the crimes committed as the perpetrator. It is being an accessory to the rapes, murders, forcible circumcision and forcible evictions. It is completely impossible to believe that while 1500 people were killed and 600,000 victims were displaced there was absolutely no evidence collected!
This is more than about reforming the police service. This is about the police, led by Inspector General Kimaiyo understanding that they are indeed in service to the people of Kenya and not to the criminals. Even as the cases against 3 suspects progress at the ICC, the fact that so many other suspected criminals have gone Scott free because of the police means that not only are the criminals aided by inaction, they are encouraged to commit the crimes again.
We want to believe that our country can rebuild itself after such terrible events. But this is impossible if we are oppressed by both the criminals and their friends the police. Yes, I say friends, because what else can you call this?
There is nothing more abhorrent than a person blaming the victim of a crime. It is not only adding insult to injury but also imprinting the lack of value that Kimaiyo has for the poor girl’s life. It is no wonder that her attackers were only told to slash grass. Right from the beginning the girl was unlikely to ever be treated like a human being!
We need to remind the likes of David Kimaiyo that citizens in this country not only deserve to be protected from criminals, they deserve to be respected as well. We certainly cannot accept that only 3 suspects will be prosecuted over the post election violence, when there are thousands more roaming freely. In the case of Liz from Busia, Kimaiyo should be compelled indeed he may even need to be forced to do his job and ensure that justice is delivered.
It is an outrage that victims can be so dehumanized by the very people sworn to protect them. There is only one thing worse than a police state, and that is a criminal state. The refusal to prosecute is criminal negligence on the part of the police and it should not be tolerated at all.