New app to help police in Kenya to jail child rapists
12 January 2016, 23:00
Nairobi - A new phone
app will help Kenyans secure justice for children who have been raped by
explaining the steps the police should take when investigating rape and enabling
the victims' families to report cases where officers fail to act.
Almost 1,000 local government officials, religious leaders
and headteachers and 4,800 students will be trained to use the free android
phone app over the next six months.
"If you don't get justice for your friend or your
sister, then this is the app that you use," said Fiona Sampson, executive
director of the Equality Effect, a legal rights network working to combat child
rape, or defilement, in Kenya.
"If you are reporting a defilement and there's any kind
of challenge with the police, then you can immediately contact the Equality
One in three Kenyan girls experience sexual violence before
the age of 18, government data shows, but it is rarely reported due to stigma
and lack of faith in the police and the criminal justice system.
In the four pilot counties - Nairobi, Mombasa, Meru and
Kakamega - where the app is being rolled out, the Equality Effect connects the
victim with a local rape shelter, which will work with the police to ensure the
case is followed up.
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The Equality Effect has trained 700 police officers in these
counties in the best practices for investigating child rape, following a 2013
court ruling which ordered the force to investigate and prosecute all child
rape cases brought to them.
The case was brought by a rescue centre in Meru, 240 km (150
miles) northeast of the capital Nairobi, which said the police had failed to
investigate over 160 child rape cases it reported.
"The NPS (National Police Service) has been carrying
out reforms and we are committed to ensuring that we deliver services to the
public as is expected of us," Inspector General Joseph Boinett said in a
statement read at the launch.
The app outlines 12 steps a police investigation should
take, from recording the complaint to arresting the accused, with guidance such
as making sure the victim is interviewed in a private place.
The police must not ask for money to buy petrol for their
vehicles or to issue forms, it says, common problems with Kenya's
overstretched, poorly paid 80,000-strong force.
The app also explains that it is illegal for victims'
families to settle cases out of court, usually in exchange for money or goats,
as this is an obstruction of justice.