Medical officers and clinical officers are now required to sign a Kenya Police Medical Examination Form (P3), the Ministry of Health has directed.
The P3 is a legal document produced in court in cases of assault or rape.
It is filled in by a police officer and, later, a registered government doctor or clinical officer who examines the complainant to determine the cause and extent of his or her injuries.
In a letter to all county directors of health, Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko says that P3 forms must be filled in by clinicians examining and treating the patients.
He said that police surgery officers who sign the forms are overwhelmed since they have to see more than 60 patients daily in addiction to testifying in court.
“This led to prolonged agony to these victims for they have to be re-examined again and most of the time the injuries and evidence to be used in court are no longer there,” said Kioko.
Most sexual abuse victims report to hospital within 72 hours, but they could see the police doctor even after three months.
Successful prosecution of rape cases requires clinical evidence, which is often elusive and by the time they are examined by the police doctor, who is supposed to confirm reports from registered medical practitioners, any soft tissue injuries they may have sustained in the attack will have healed.
Doctors have previously shied away from signing the documents fearing the inconvenience of turning up in court to testify
The logistics of travelling to far-flung places means that doctors are likely to skip testifying in such cases, thus denying justice to victims.