On June 15th and 16th, 2023, the Hon. Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court, Martha Koome, EGH launched two Specialized Sexual and Gender Based Violence Courts in Siaya and Kisumu with the participation of IAWJ Kenya Chapter. These are the second and third Specialization Sexual and Gender Based Violence courts to be launched. The first Specialized Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Court was at Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa on the International Day of Women Judges on 10th March 2022 which initiative wonderfully coincided with her ladyship’s vision for the Judiciary, on “Social transformation through Access to Justice”.
The Hon. Justice Martha Koome, EGH the Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya (R) officially opened the Siaya High Court and launched the Specialized SGBV Court accompanied by the Governor of Siaya County, H. E James Orengo EGH ( L).
On the 15th of June 2023 the Hon. Justice Martha Koome, EGH’s Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya officially opened the Siaya High Court and launched the Specialized SGBV Court. The launch was attended by the Governor of Siaya County, H. E James Orengo EGH, H.E Betty Orengo, County First Lady, Hon. Anne Amadi, the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Commissioners of the Judicial Service Commission, Hon. Lady Justice Agnes Murgor, JA President of the International Association of Women Judges Kenya Chapter, who was accompanied by Hon. Lady Justice Hellen Omondi, JA and Hon. Irene Kahuya, Judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court and Courts of Equal Status, and Magistrates, Justice actors which included the Court Users Committee, Law Society of Kenya, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Witness Protection Agency and development partners.
During the launch, they encouraged the Siaya County and the CUCs to nurture the SGBV Court which is part of the new strategies under the Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ). She noted that the court will ensure access to justice for the survivors. It will also address some of the barriers faced by the survivors in their quest for justice. Hon. Lady Justice Agnes Murgor, JA emphasized the association's commitment in supporting the Specialized SGBV Courts through capacity building of the specialized SGBV Courts CUCs. She also noted that the county has been witnessing an upsurge of SGBV. Therefore, the court will curb the increase of SGBV against women and young girls. The County Governor called on all the members of the CUCs to participate in community sensitization to create awareness against SGBV within the county. The County First Lady mentioned that the county is planning to set up safe houses for the survivors of SGBV.
IAWJ Kenya Chapter President, Hon. Lady Justice Agnes Murgor, JA making her remarks at Siaya Law Court on the Launch of the Second Specialized SGBV Court.
On the 16th of June 2023 Hon. Justice Martha Koome, EGH the Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya officially launched the E-filing system for all cases for the Kisumu, Siaya and Homabay High Court. They also launched the Specialized SGBV Court at Kisumu Law Court.
The launch was attended by the H.E. Dr. Mathew Ochieng Owili, Deputy Governor Kisumu County, Hon. Anne Amadi, the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Commissioners of the Judicial Service Commission, Hon. Lady Justice Agnes Murgor, JA President of the International Association of Women Judges Kenya Chapter who was accompanied by Hon. Lady Justice Hellen Omondi, JA, Hon. Lady Justice Patricia Nyaundi and Hon. Irene Kahuya, Judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court and Courts of Equal Status, and Magistrates, Justice actors which included the Court Users Committee, Law Society of Kenya, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and development partners.
In her Speech, the Hon. Lady Agnes Murgor, Judge of Appeal, and President of the International Association of Women Judges Kenya Chapter noted the launch of the two Specialized SGBV is an answer to many years of agitation for the establishment of specialized SGBV Courts in Kenya especially because violence against women and children in that country continued to escalate due to pandemic proportions. The onset of COVID-19 further exacerbated the situation and dramatically increased the number of SGBV cases filed in the courts. It was following the concerns of women judges and magistrates on the length of time that it took for such cases to be determined, t. negative biases experienced by survivors of violence, women in general, and the high rate of early termination of cases. Either the survivors or witnesses failed to show up in court to avoid being intimidated and revictimized due to the perpetrator’s continued threats from within the communities or arising from inadequate court infrastructure for hearing such cases. It could also be improper investigations and preservation of forensic evidence, the lack of training of the justice actors, and amongst other factors, a desperate need was seen for the establishment of SGBV courts where the survivors are centered.
IAWJ Kenya Chapter Memberson (L) lead by Hon. Justice Murgor, JA, (R ) next to Justice Mugor, JA is Ms. Teresa Mudagza from IDLO at the Launch of the Specilaized SGBV Court at Kisumu Law Court.
Justice Murgor, JA emphasized on the mission of the association by saying that “there is no doubt that the SGBV courts will revolutionize the way in which SGBV cases are handled going forward because with the development of these courts, we hope to achieve enhanced access to justice for the survivors of SGBV, where justice is dispensed expeditiously and effectively, in a ‘survivor friendly’ atmosphere. We anticipate the day when we will have victim friendly courtrooms with structural and technological infrastructure that is geared towards protecting the survivor, and where the proceedings are conducted in an environment that prohibits their re-traumatization, and where all the justice actors have the necessary skills and training in the handling of these cases. We also envisage an end-to-end process that takes care of the survivor’s needs, including the provision of psychosocial support from the moment the case is reported up to the point when a judgment is rendered.