February 27, 2015
Justice has been served in a child abuse case that affected a large number of Kenyan children. In December, we posted about the guilty verdict in the case of Simon Harris, a British charity director who abused numerous Kenyan street children over an 18-year period.
On Thursday, February 26, Harris was sentenced to 17 years and four months in prison, a very strong sentence under the UK criminal justice system that will ensure he will abuse and exploit no more.
"Harris is among the most prolific child sex offenders I have ever come across,” said Kelvin Lay, senior investigation officer from Britain’s Child Online Exploitation and Online Protection unit (CEOP). "The precise number of his victims may never be known.”
Harris was charged under the UK’s Sexual Offences Act of 2003, which allows British nationals to be held accountable for abuse committed abroad—the first time this law has been used for offences in Africa. Harris denied all of the charges from Kenya and was found guilty on eight charges of assaulting children and four counts of possessing indecent images.
IJM played a significant role in gathering evidence for the case and facilitated key psychosocial support for victims, and IJM's team in Kenya was even commended by the British High Commission for their work.
The sentencing was covered by The Guardian, quoting IJM UK chief executive Terry Tennens who said, "Today’s sentence is a landmark moment for the UK justice system and for all the organizations and authorities who worked together to secure the imprisonment of this man. The tough sentence sends a clear message that those who abuse vulnerable, young children will be held accountable.”