Ms. Judy Gitau pausing with a portrait at Mungatsi ground. PHOTO: OKONG’O ODUYA

The lack of a special court in Busia to handle gender-based violence cases in the community has been identified as the major obstacle in ending GBV-related cases in Busia County.

According to the Civil Societies Network in Busia County, there is a need for the judiciary to set up a special court at Busia law courts to fast-track those cases.

Ms. Mary Makokha is the director of Rural Education and Empowerment (REEP), a non-governmental organization on behalf of the network, appealed to the county government to provide land to put the court to address SGBV cases adding that cases related to sexual abuse and gender-based violence take too long in court and eventually, the victims end up losing the battle for lack of enough evidence.

“The County government should provide land to put an SGBV court to address gender-based violence cases. This is because these cases take too long in court. In a situation where a four-year-old has been defiled and the case is taken to court, it is mentioned and then it is pushed eight months ahead, by the time the case is resumed the minor is likely going to forget what happened,” she noted

Addressing the gathering during the international day of African Child celebrations at Mungatsi in Nambale, Busia County Ms Makokha noted that most gender-based perpetrators in Busia are now targeting children with disabilities, especially the deaf which makes it hard for the case to be executed due to lack of sign language experts in Court.

“It has come to my attention that most of the sexual perpetrators in Busia County are now targeting deaf children and when we get to court due to lack of sign language experts in these courts the case dies a natural death. That is why we need to get people who can translate sign language in courts so that these children can get justice.”

Mary Makokha

Ms Judy Gitau the Africa Regional Coordinator at Equality now, says as the children coordinator African region appealed to the stakeholders to speed up cases involving children in court to make sure that the children get the justice they deserve in a court of law especially those who have suffered sexual violence.

Justice Teresia Matheka in the company of Busia County commissioner Mr Kipchumba Ruto among other guests During the celebrations of the International Day of the African Child at Mungatsi, Busia County. PHOTO: OKONG’O ODUYA,KTMN

“Our appeal indeed is for child welfare to be prioritized. We have heard from the actors on the ground and what is going on. We are happy the county and the National governments are here, the judiciary is here, this is the time we need to address issues such as expediting cases of children in court by ensuring that children who have suffered cases of sexual violence, their cases are heard in good time,” she said

According to Busia County deputy governor Mr. Arthur Odera, the Busia County government is in the process of formulating children’s policies, and before the end of this year, there will be laws in place protecting the interest of children in the county.

“We are already formulating children policies and by the end of this year, it will be passed into law by the county assembly of Busia, just to make sure that we protect children’s rights. As a county we are putting money to obtain assisting devices for schools, irrespective of whether they are a special school, ECD, primary or secondary school because all these are our children and we love them.”

Authur Odera

Mr. Odera noted that as a county they are in the process of constructing a child protection center to provide a safe place for all the children who are under threat from the community.

“We are in the process of starting the construction of a child protection center in Busia. We want to make sure that all children who are under a threat find a safe place where they can live and experience love and be protected against the vices they come across and more importantly they can go to school,” said the deputy governor

According to lady justice, lady Teresia Matheka reading the speech on behalf of the chief guest, chief justice Martha Koome the use of digital space for children has come with a lot of benefits including rights to access education, and the right to access justice among others.

She however noted that also accessing the internet comes with risks to children through abuse and molestation.

“As we celebrate the rights of African children whose theme is the right of children in the digital environment, it is an acknowledgment that we are in the digital age where internet access is available to our children, it is a space that offers great opportunities for the children who can access it and realize some of their rights such as education, right to access justice, right of leisure and play among others through social media, however, it comes with great risks of infringement of the rights and welfare of the child such as the risk of discrimination, the denial of rights and risk of online abuse,” she said

To promote and protect the rights of the children in the new space, lady justice Matheka called upon all state, and non-state actors to join hands to give children the justice they deserve when their cases get to the court.

“For us to promote and protect the rights of children in this new space called digital, we call for the duty bearers whether state or non-state justice actors, parents, guardians, and caregivers to work together to ensure that justice for the children remains intact.

She called upon all justice actors to strengthen the protection of children from online abuse, violence extremism, trafficking, and other emerging risks that target children.

“I, therefore, call for the strengthened protection of children from online abuse, violent extremism, child trafficking, and other emerging risks by all justice actors.” She said

In her speech, Chief Justice Koome called for an enhanced budgetary allocation to support the child-based institutions in Kenya and the establishment of the child welfare fund, a strengthened response to children issues and enhanced coordination in the child sector, and the establishment of the national children database to help in programming and intervention for children.

By IAN BYRON

Managing Editor, Writer and Political Affairs Enthusiast

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