Studies suggest that 49 percent of people with intellectual disabilities will experience 10 or more sexually abusive incidents, yet they face huge barriers when it comes to access to justice, These barriers related to communications when testifying in court and unfriendly criminal justice system that does not take into account their special needs.
However, this situation is slowly changing in Kenya, thanks to efforts by the Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH) that is now changing the landscape on access to justice for persons with intellectual disabilities. KAIH is now providing communications support to ensure that persons with intellectual disabilities communicate effectively in court, supporting in the preservation of evidence to ensure admissibility in court, supporting investigators in gathering evidence and prosecutors to understand the cases, In addition, KAIH is working with the judges and magistrates to provide a friendly environment that enables persons with intellectual disabilities to freely participate in court sessions.
These interventions have yielded little victories that are now changing the landscape for access to justice for persons with intellectual disabilities. Following interventions by KAIH, a young woman in Mombasa accessed justice following rape by an uncle. The uncle was found guilty of the offence and sentenced to 30 years in prison. This is a landmark ruling that has set precedent for such cases and has led to the prosecutors/investigators requesting for support from KAIH anytime they are dealing with cases involving persons with intellectual disabilities.
“30 years in prison was a big win for us. We now receive a lot of request for support from the justice system on cases involving persons with intellectual disabilities,” an elated Fatma Wangare Haji, Executive Director, KAIH revealed