Rape

Is Kenya finally starting to tackle its sexual violence epidemic? (Thomson Reuters)

7/16/2014 -- Thomson Reuters -- "Is Kenya finally starting to tackle its sexual violence epidemic?" Kimberly M. Brown, AGLDF Consultant, on the onging Justice For Liz campaign:

Nigeria: #BringBackOurGirls

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2014 May 9
Update: 

TAKE ACTION NOW TO #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS!

8 OCTOBER 2014 UPDATE: In July, the Nigerian Ministry of the Interior responded to our letter calling for increased efforts to rescue the abducted Chibok school girls and to eradicate terrorism (read letter here). However, despite declarations of behind the scenes efforts, international collaboration, and increased security measures, six months have passed and not one girl has been rescued. To date, 219 girls are still missing, and the 57 girls who escaped, did so on their own. In fact, Boko Haram has abducted additional girls, women and boys since April.

We have taken the issue up using various United Nations and African Commission human rights procedures and continue to keep the discussion going on our networks. On 13 October – following the 11 October international recognition of the Day of the Girl Child -- Equality Now, the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) and FEMNET, will hold a solidarity vigil to mark six months since the girls’ abduction. The vigil will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together civil society, expert guest speakers and artists. In addition, 11-18 October will be Global Week of Action. We are not giving up on the girls and we hope you will do the same. Please renew the call to hold the governments accountable and to keep global attention on the issue. Thank you for your support.


TAKE ACTION NOW TO #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS!

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW TO #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join Equality Now and our Nigerian partners, WRAPA, Echoes of Women in Africa, Women for Justice and Peace, and Alliances for Africa, in urgently calling on the Government of Nigeria to: 

  • Take immediate action to locate and rescue the girls and provide them with support services upon their return
  • Prosecute those responsible for the girls’ abduction and exploitation
  • Take steps to protect schools from attacks so that they are safe places to learn
  • Immediately institute, in consultation with women’s rights organizations, measures to protect the safety and human rights of women and girls throughout Nigeria, which are further endangered by the volatile political situation in the conflict areas

Additionally, call on the Governments of Cameroon and Chad to swiftly determine whether the girls were transported into their countries and to assist in their rescue.

(You can also re-tweet and share messages from our Twitter or Facebook pages in the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign.)

LETTER #1

H.E. President Goodluck Jonathan
President of  Nigeria
Aso Rock Presidential Villa
Abuja, Nigeria
cc: Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
Email: permny@nigeriaunmission.org

Comrade Abba Moro
Minister Of Interior
Block F, Old Secretariat, Garki Area 1, PMB 7007, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria
Email: info@interior.gov.ng

Aliyu Gusau
Minister of Defense
Ship House, Area 10, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria
Fax:  +234 9 234 0714

Mohammed Bello Adoke
Attorney General
Federal Ministry of Justice
Shehu Shagari Way, Central Area
Abuja, Nigeria
Telephone: +234 9 523 5208
Fax: +234 9 523 5194
Email: info@justice.gov.ng

Hon. Aminu Tambuwal
Speaker of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Nigeria
National Assembly Complex
Three Arms Zone
Abuja, Nigeria
Email: hon.aminu.tambuwal@nass.gov.ng
Twitter: @SpeakerTambuwal

Hajiya Zainab Maina
Minister of Women Affairs
Federal Ministry of Women Affairs
Annex 3, New Federal Secretariat, Shehu Shagari Way, Central Area, P.M.B. 229 Garki
Abuja, Nigeria
Fax: +234 9 5233644
enquiries@womenaffairs.gov.ng

Dr. James N. Obiegbu
Permanent Secretary
Federal Ministry of Police Affairs,
8th Fl., Federal Secretariat Complex, Shehu Shagari Way,
Maitama
Abuja, Nigeria
emergency@policeaffairs.gov.ng

Senator David Mark
President of the Senate of the National Assembly of Nigeria
National Assembly Complex
Three Arms Zone
Abuja, Nigeria
hon.david.mark@nass.gov.ng

LETTER #2

H.E. President Paul Biya
President of the Republic of Cameroon
P.O. Box 1000
Yaoundé, Cameroon
cellcom@prc.cm
@PR_Paul_Biya
cc: Permanent Mission of Cameroon to the United Nations
cameroon.mission@yahoo.com

H.E. President Idriss Déby
President of Chad
P.O. Box 74
N’Djamena, Chad
Tel: +235 514 437
Fax: +235 514 501
cc: Permanent Mission of Chad to the United Nations
chadmission@gmail.com

Letters: 

LETTER #1

Dear President, Minister, Attorney General, Permanent Secretary, Senator, Speaker, Inspector General:

I urge you to listen to the people protesting in Nigeria – and around the globe – and  take immediate action to “Bring Back Our Girls.” Every day they remain missing puts them at greater risk.

The abduction of nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram in April, eight more girls in May, and the reported sale of some of the girls into marriage and sexual slavery, constitute egregious human rights violations. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, it may also constitute a crime against humanity. So far, your efforts to rescue the girls have fallen desperately short, which sends the message that girls and women can be sold, commodified, and used as political currency. To date, not one girl has been rescued. 57 girls have escaped on their own, leaving 219 girls still in captivity. Until and unless the Nigerian government and other actors in the conflict in Nigeria place greater value on the worth of girls and women as human beings, and take comprehensive measures to protect them from all forms of violence, they will face an ongoing and heightened risk of such abuses.

Nigeria has ratified several international and regional human rights instruments that affirm the State’s responsibility to protect women and girls from all forms of gender based violence, and specifically call on Nigeria to protect girls from trafficking and harmful practices such as child marriage. They also require that  girls’ rights to education be  upheld.

I join Equality Now, the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights coalition, Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, Echoes of Women in Africa, Women for Justice and Peace, Alliances for Africa, and the Enough is Enough Nigeria Coalition in calling on you to ensure the safety of girls and women in the current conflict in Nigeria by:

1.    Taking immediate action to locate and rescue the missing girls and providing rehabilitation and support for them upon their return;
2.    Prosecuting those responsible for their abduction and exploitation;
3.    Take steps to protect schools from attacks so that they are safe places to learn; and by
4.    Immediately instituting, in consultation with local women’s rights organizations, measures to protect the safety and human rights of women and girls throughout the country, which are further endangered by the volatile political situation in conflict areas in Nigeria.
 
Thank you for your urgent attention.

Yours sincerely,
 


 LETTER #2

Dear President,

According to reports, some of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls that were abducted in April by Boko Haram  may have been brought into your country and subjected to sexual slavery and forced marriage. I therefore strongly  urge you to  take immediate action to assist in locating and  rescuing the girls. Every day they remain missing puts them at greater risk.

The abduction and trafficking of   the Chibok schoolgirls and the eight additional  girls who were kidnapped in May in Borno State, Nigeria, constitute egregious human rights violations. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, selling the girls into slavery could also constitute crimes against humanity. So far, the efforts to rescue the girls have fallen desperately short, which sends the message that girls and women can be sold, commodified, and used as political currency.

I join Equality Now, the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights coalition, Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, Echoes of Women in Africa, Women for Justice and Peace, Alliances for Africa, and the Enough is Enough Nigeria Coalition in calling on you to take immediate action to assist Nigeria in the locating and  safe return of the girls and the prosecution and/or extradition of those responsible for their abduction and exploitation.

Your country  has ratified several international and regional human rights instruments that affirm the State’s responsibility to protect women and girls from all forms of gender based violence, and specifically call for the protection of girls from trafficking and harmful practices such as child marriage. I respectfully ask that you honor your country’s obligations.

Thank you for your urgent attention.

Yours sincerely,

Sudan: Change the law – allow victims of sexual violence to access justice

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2014 Mar 13
Update: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

11 SEPTEMBER 2014 UPDATE: Following our calls on government officials and our June submission to the Human Rights Committee, the State has since provided the young woman with medical attention (she gave birth in June). Additionally, she no longer faces deportation as the immigration charges were suspended. Equality Now continues to pursue all angles to ensure justice for the young survivor and an amendment of Sudan’s rape and public order laws.

Please continue to lend your voice to the call for all criminal charges against her to be dropped. Thank you for your support! 


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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Join Equality Now in calling for justice for all survivors and victims of sexual violence in Sudan.
Please take urgent action today by writing to the officials below to demand that:

  • The prosecution drop all criminal charges against the young woman, and cease any legal action to deport her to Ethiopia.
  • The young woman is promptly provided with adequate medical and psychological support as a victim and survivor of sexual violence.
  • Immediate steps are taken to amend the Sudan Criminal Act of 1991 and the Sudan Evidence Act of 1994 to prevent the criminalization of sexual violence victims, and to ensure that women and girls who have been raped receive equal protection under the law in accordance with Sudan’s international obligations.

President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
People’s Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan

H.E. Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan
Email: moj@moj.gov.sd

H.E. Fatih Ezzidin Ahmed Speaker of the National Assembly
The Peoples Hall Omdurman
PO Box 14416, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 00249 187 560 950 Emails: info@parliament.gov.sd
sudanipg@parliament.gov.sd

H.E. Mashair Aldawalab
Minster of Welfare & Social Security
Ministry of Welfare & Social Security (General Directorate for Women & Family Affairs)
PO Box: 12661
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 83777633
Emails: info@gdwfa.gov.sd

H.E. Ali Ahmed Karti
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 873
Khartoum, Sudan

Letters: 

Dear President/Minister/Speaker,

I am deeply concerned by the overwhelming challenges women and girls face when seeking justice   for rape and sexual violence in Sudan. I am particularly disturbed by the brutal August 2013 gang rape of a 19-year-old pregnant and divorced Ethiopian woman by seven men in Omdurman. I was outraged to learn that a victim of sexual violence was re-victimized by the very judicial system that should be seeking justice for her. This was tragically demonstrated by her arrest alongside the perpetrators who raped her, her detainment, the various charges levied against her, and her subsequent guilty charge and sentence for committing indecent acts. This case highlights the tremendous challenges victims face victims and the urgent need for legal reform, especially to article 149 of the criminal code referring to rape.

Under current laws, when a woman or girl reports she has been raped, she also exposes herself to possible prosecution. Effectively, a victim has to prove her own innocence by demonstrating that the encounter was non-consensual. If she fails to do so, she is liable to be prosecuted for adultery (zina). The law lacks clear guidelines on its interpretation and implementation, which allows judges wide discretion that is often unjust to victims seeking redress through the criminal justice system. In this case, even with filmed evidence of the rape, the victim was still found guilty of indecent acts. All these factors, combined with the traumatic stigma and fear of community reprisals, often deter women and girls from reporting crimes of sexual violence and make it very difficult for them to achieve justice even if they do.

Sudan is obligated in its interim constitution of 2005 and under several international conventions to ensure that men and women are treated equally under the law and to prevent victims from being criminalized. The Interim National Constitution of the Republic of Sudan in article 28 of its Bill of Rights states that “Every human being has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his/her person, which shall be protected by law” and in article 31 that “all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination, as to . . . sex . . . to the equal protection of the law.” Both the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) echo these rights and state, “(1) Every individual shall be equal before the law and (2) Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.” The African Charter and the ICCPR prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment,” but Sudan violates this article when it punishes sexual violence victims by charging them with adultery.

I join Equality Now in calling for justice for all survivors and victims of sexual violence in Sudan. I urge Sudanese authorities to take urgent action in accordance with Sudan’s international, regional and domestic obligations to ensure that:

  • The prosecution drops all criminal charges against the young woman, and ceases any legal action to deport her to Ethiopia.
  • The young woman is promptly provided with adequate medical and psychological support as a victim and survivor of sexual violence.
  • Immediate steps are taken to amend the Sudan Criminal Act of 1991 and the Sudan Evidence Act of 1994 to prevent the criminalization of sexual violence victims, and to ensure that women and girls who have been raped receive equal protection under the law in accordance with Sudan’s international obligations.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Kenya: Ensure justice for 16-year-old Liz & all victims of sexual violence

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2014 Jan 23
Update: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

10 OCTOBER 2014 UPDATE: Though Liz’s case has been adjourned until November 2014, progress continues in the case as well as to address sexual violence in Busia County/Western Kenya. In late September the DPP announced that a second perpetrator had been apprehended and placed in juvenile prison. Additionally, in late August specially trained investigators were sent to Busia to begin looking into the 70 additional rape cases compiled by our partners, with several arrests soon following. At the same time, the National Gender and Equity Commission began its own investigation in Busia to better understand the gaps and persistent problems. The Commission held closed hearings with 100s of survivors of sexual violence - many referred by REEP – and also met with magistrates, chiefs, religious officers, government officials and the children’s office to discuss the issue. Equality Now and our partners are greatly encouraged by these positive developments. Please continue to support the #JusticeforLiz campaign!


31 JULY 2014 UPDATE: The trial to obtain justice for Liz began on 24 June with court proceedings subsequently adjourned until 11-12 September. With the beginning of the trial, we are encouraged by the increased responsiveness of government officials to address sexual violence in Busia/Western Kenya arising from the campaign. In June, Equality Now wrote to the Kenyan Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) – detailing 70 additional rape cases compiled by our partners, which had not been investigated and/or the identified suspects had not been arrested – to spur them to take action. Less than a month later, the DPP responded to say that he had contacted the Director of Criminal Investigations calling for “speedy and thorough investigations” into the cases; asked for the files to be submitted to his office for appropriate action following the investigations; and, that he had appointed a team from the DPP’s Sexual and Gender Based Violence unit to provide guidance during the investigations.

We are extremely hopeful that this response from senior leadership signals that sexual violence will be taken seriously and handled appropriately in Kenya. Equality Now, COVAW, Avaaz, REEP and the SOAWR coalition thank you for partnering with us on this campaign, and we will continue to update you as the situation progresses.


20 JUNE 2014 UPDATE: Renewed call to Action! The trial for Liz’s case is scheduled to begin on Tuesday 24 June and, though it’s been nearly a year, still only one of the five gang rape suspects has been arrested, despite community reports that the whereabouts of the remaining five are known.

Please help us continue to demand justice for victims of sexual violence in Kenya and raise awareness on the systemic failures to address the problem in Busia County - the site of Liz’s attack and a region with a high prevalence of sexual violence against women and girls.

On Monday 23 June, Equality Now, COVAW, Avaaz, REEP and the SOAWR coalition are holding a rally and community dialogue in Busia, to amplify our call for justice and for authorities to take sexual violence more seriously in Kenya, especially in Busia.

The renewed call and details about the rally are available here – please join us in spreading the word that we’ve had ENOUGH when it comes to sexual violence!


17 APRIL 2014 UPDATE: Progress! We’re pleased to report that following the 8 April hearing, the Director of Public Prosecutions has finally amended and upgraded the charges against all six suspects to gang rape, and issued arrest warrants for the remaining five suspects. The case is set to go to trial on 24 June.

Thank you for keeping up the pressure on Kenyan officials to get justice for Liz and we'll continue to update you as the case progresses. We hope that you will continue to join with Equality Now and our partners in calling on Kenyan officials to ensure that all sexual violence complaints are handled swiftly and appropriately, and that officials are properly equipped to deal with survivors and victims of sexual violence.


28 March 2014 Update: Thank you to the thousands of supporters who have taken action to demand Justice for Liz. Authorities took notice, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions initially issued public assurances that the case would proceed to court without further delay. However, following a hearing on 24 March 2014, it's clear that the authorities still aren't taking Liz’s case seriously. To date, only one of the  six suspects have been arrested, despite reports that their whereabouts are known, and the charge sheet still has not been amended to reflect rape or other crimes of sexual violence under the Sexual Offenses Act. Further, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority has not yet released their investigative report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by police officers handling this case, and no lawful action has been taken to address the police failures in this case.

The next hearing is scheduled for 8 April 2014 and we need your help! Please maintain pressure to obtain justice for Liz. Authorities must take immediate action to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors and victims.


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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

  • Call on the officials below to take immediate steps to arrest all the remaining suspects so the trial can proceed with them present.
  • Urge Kenya’s criminal justice sector work together more effectively to ensure that the Sexual Offences Act is effectively implemented so that all cases of sexual violence are properly investigated and prosecuted, particularly in the Butula and Nambale sub-counties of Busia County.
  • Urge the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to investigate and report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by the police officers handling this case, and to take action against the police failures in this case.
  • Urge the government of Kenya to prioritize the training of law enforcement officials to ensure that sexual violence complaints are appropriately handled and that officials are equipped to deal with survivors of sexual violence by rectifying harmful behaviors that might further distress victims or impede their access to justice.
  • Take part in the #JusticeForLiz social media campaign. Messages can also be re-tweeted from @equalitynow, @COVAW and @FemnetProg.
  • Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

Letters should be addressed to:

H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta
President of the Republic of Kenya
P.O. Box 30040
Nairobi, Kenya
@StateHouseKenya, @UKenyatta
info@president.go.ke

Hon. Prof Githu Muigai
Attorney General
Department of Justice
Harambee Avenue
P.O Box 40112-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
oagpcomms@kenya.go.ke
@AGMuigai

Hon. Joseph Ole Lenku
Cabinet Secretary
Ministry of Interior & Coordination of National Government
Harambee House, Harambee Avenue, P.0. Box 30510-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
@joelenku, @InteriorKE

Hon. Mr. Keriako Tobiko
Director of Public Prosecution
Office of the DPP
NSSF Building, 19th Fl
Bishops Road
P.O. Box 30701-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
info@odpp.go.ke

H.E. Ms. Anne Waiguru
Cabinet Secretary
Ministry of Devolution & Planning
P. O. Box 30005 - 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
info@devolutionplanning.go.ke
@AnneWaiguru

Hon Dr. Willy Mutunga
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Kenya
City Hall Way
P.O. Box 30041-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
chiefjustice@judiciary.go.ke
@WMutunga

Hon. Sospeter Odeke Ojaamong
Governor, Busia County
County Government of Busia
Fomer Busia Town Hall Building
P.O Box Private Bag Busia
50400 Busia, Kenya
info@busiacounty.go.ke

Ms. Patricia Nyaundi
Secretary to the Commission
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
1st Floor CVS Plaza, Kasuku Rd.
P.O. Box: 74359-00200
Nairobi, Kenya
haki@knchr.org

Independent Policing
Oversight Authority
1st Ngong Avenue,
ACK Garden Annex, 2nd Fl.
P. O. Box 23035 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
info@ipoa.go.ke

With a copy to: The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, Email: info@kewopa.org

Letters: 

Dear President/Minister/Governor,

I am deeply concerned about the mounting evidence demonstrating Kenyan authorities’ systemic failure to investigate and prosecute sexual violence cases. I am particularly disturbed by the brutal rape of Liz in Busia County that occurred on June 26, 2013, and the subsequent miscarriage of justice by authorities in Liz’s case. To date five of the six suspects identified have not been arrested despite reports that their whereabouts are known. Much more must be done to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors.

Liz’s case drew national and international attention to Busia County and the failures of the local authorities to adequately address sexual violence. The evidence in Busia in is very compelling, and highlights the prevalence of sexual violence plaguing women and girls, and the tremendous obstacles encountered at every stage of the criminal justice process. There are dozens if not hundreds of cases that underscore just how dire the situation has become.

Kenya’s 2006 Sexual Offences Act criminalizes all forms of sexual violence and the 2010 Constitution entrenches the rights and fundamental freedoms of all, while also giving significant prominence to human rights and international law (specifically see Articles 27, 28, 29, and 48). Kenya has also ratified and domesticated a number of human rights instruments that affirm the State’s responsibility to protect women and girls from sexual violence, including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Protocol), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I join Equality Now and their partners through the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) Coalition - COVAW, FIDA-Kenya, FEMNET, Fahamu and IPAS - in calling for justice for Liz and for all survivors and victims of sexual violence. I urge Kenyan authorities to take urgent action in accordance with Kenya’s international, regional and domestic obligations to ensure that:

  • Immediate steps are taken to ensure timely justice for Liz, which includes arresting the five remaining suspects who are still at large so that the case can proceed with them present at the trial now scheduled for 24 June, 2014.
  • Kenya’s criminal justice sector work together more effectively to ensure that the Sexual Offences Act is effectively implemented and that all cases of sexual violence are properly investigated and prosecuted, particularly in Busia County.
  • That the Independent Policing Oversight Authority investigate and report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by police officers handling this case, and take necessary lawful action against police failures in this case.  
  • That the training of law enforcement officials is prioritized to ensure that sexual violence complaints are appropriately handled and that they are equipped to deal with survivors and victims of sexual violence by rectifying harmful behaviours that might further distress victim or impede their access to justice.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Afghanistan: Prosecute those responsible for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Shakila Bakhsh

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Nov 25

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

  • Call on the officials below to ensure that a full and fair investigation is undertaken into the death of Shakila Bakhsh and that the perpetrator/s of her rape and murder are prosecuted without delay.
  • Urge the government of Afghanistan, in accordance with Afghanistan’s own Constitution and its international legal obligations, to ensure that robust systems are put in place to prevent all violence against women and girls and to guarantee that the rule of law prevails in protection of the rights of women and girls.

Letters should go to:

Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. Umar Daudzai
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Interior Affairs
Kabul
Afghanistan
Tel: +93 202 102 945 +93 202 102 945 +93 202 201 785 +93 202 201 785
Email: af.moi.press@gmail.com, moi.spokesman.mediadirectorate@gmail.com

Minister of Justice Mr. Habibullah Ghalib
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Justice
Charayee Pashtoonistan,
Foroushgah
Kabul
Afghanistan
Tel:  +93 202 104 336
Email: spksperson@gmail.com

With copy to: President Karzai, Presidential Palace, Kabul, Afghanistan Tel: +93 (20) 210 2853, +93 (20) 210 3705, +93 (20) 210 3705 Email: president.pressoffice@gmail.com

Letters: 

Dear Minister of Interior Affairs/ Minister of Justice:

I am deeply concerned about the rape and murder of 16-year-old Shakila Bakhsh, daughter of Mohammad Bakhsh, in Zargaran, in central Bamyan on 31 January 2012, and the lack of a prosecution in her case.

According to the Bamyan Province Court of Appeal (case number 40, May 21, 2012) documents, Shakila was found dead at the home of Mr. Mohammad Hadi Wahidi Bihishti, a member of Bamyan Provincial Council. At the time of the incident Mr. Bihishti was home with his wife and nephew. Initially Mr. Bihishti’s bodyguard, Mr. Qurban, who is also Shakila’s brother-in-law, was charged with her murder despite eye witness statements which placed him at a local bazaar at the time. Mr. Qurban claimed he was informed about Shakila’s death through a phone call made to him by Mr. Bihishti who told him that Shakila had killed herself.

Court documents state that security forces and the police were not informed by Mr. Bishishti or anyone else about what had happened. Instead, the deceased’s body was taken to hospital. The documents also state that there was an attempt to remove signs of the murder at the house. When police present at the hospital happened to find out about the incident they sent a team to investigate. However, the court documents also highlight a number of failings in the police investigation including the fact that the police neglected to send fingerprints of Mr. Bihishti, his wife or nephew to forensics to be examined. Reportedly family members of Shakila and Mr. Qurban maintain that Mr. Bihishti is responsible for killing Shakila, but due to his influential position in the Bamyan Provincial Council he is not being fully investigated. On 21 May 2012, the Court of Appeal concluded that there was insufficient evidence against Mr. Qurban and ordered a new investigation.

I urge you to please ensure that the case is fully and fairly investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. I would respectfully urge the government of Afghanistan to ensure the rule of law prevails and that violence against women and girls is prevented and punished to the full extent of the law in accordance with Afghanistan’s own Constitution and international legal obligations.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

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