Don’t shift state responsibility to victims of sexual violence, expert tells court

Testimony by a victim of sexual crime “is the most valuable evidence” a judge can use to adjudicate a case, an international criminal investigation and prosecutions expert has told the High Court.

“If the victim’s testimony is believable, then yes, that’s enough,” said Maxine Marcus, an international criminal prosecutor and investigator, while responding to questions by Willis Otieno, the lawyer representing eight survivors of the post-election violence in a public interest case.

Eight survivors who are seeking official acknowledgment that the government failed to prevent sexual violence against them during the post-2007 election crisis, and culpability for failing to investigate and prosecute their tormentors, have already testified in private. Marcus is the sixth expert witness to be called to the stand; UN Special Rapporteur for Sexual Violence Rashida Manjoo testified in court last week.

Summoning expert witnesses has opened the hearing to the public since it was filed in February 2013. Over 20 women wearing white T-shirts with I Stand for Truth, Justice and Dignity inscribed on the front fill the jam-pack Courtroom No 3’s nine wooden benches in a show of solidarity with the petitioners as Marcus gives her testimony. At the back of the courtroom, men and women who had accompanied the petitioners stand for lack of seats.

(Read more at Journalists for Justice )

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