Posted by ANTHONY KAGIRI on September 22, 2009
NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 22 – A section of the civil society has challenged Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo to formally invite the International Criminal Court to take over the trial of perpetrators of post election violence.
The organisations on Monday accused the minister of deceit for inviting ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo through media statements when he knows a formal request is required for the Prosecutor to act. Ndung’u Wainaina of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict said the agreements signed between the government and the ICC in July did not indicate an automatic takeover if the government failed to act within the specified time, as implied by the Justice Minister.
“Why has the Minister failed to formally write to the ICC saying that the Cabinet did endorse the referral as he is fond of saying in the media?” Mr Wainaina queried. He accused the government of playing games with Kenyans and the international community. “There has to be clarity on this.” The Cabinet in July rejected Mr Kilonzo’s proposal of a local tribunal and said it would use the local justice system to deal with the perpetrators. It agreed to carry out key reforms in the Judiciary, Police and the Attorney General’s office to speed up justice in the country. It also agreed to work with the ICC but no formal process on this has been reported in public towards the trial of perpetrators.
The shorter route for the ICC to take over prosecutions is after a formal invitation by the government. The court can initiate the process but that would take longer as the prosecutor would have to first convince the court chambers after thorough preliminary investigations. Mr Ocampo is said to be in the process of the preliminary probe.
The civil society network called for the government to act in speed to facilitate the visit of Mr Ocampo to Kenya. Mr Wainaina who met Mr Ocampo with a group of other civil society members last week cautioned that the government would soon find itself cornered if it failed to act on the suspects as the international community is closely working with the ICC to end the culture of impunity.
“The information we have is that the international community is narrowing down on people who – to the best of their understanding – have a track record of enjoying impunity and standing in the way of justice,” he said. “I think when Ocampo said Kenya would be a lesson there is a clear understanding across the board.” The network also challenged Members of Parliament, “to act with the same zeal and seriousness on the enactment of the Special Tribunal for Kenya Bill as they have with the infamous Ringera Saga.”
The team maintains that a local tribunal is the best option to deal with impunity and maintained that the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission should not in any way foreclose the ICC and Special Tribunal prosecutorial role.
“We emphasise that the primary objective of the two are to promote and enhance accountability and reconciliation objectives. Furthermore, we strongly feel that the TJRC operationalisation at this moment without settling the fundamental question of post election violent crimes accountability will distort and confuse the victims and public,” a statement by the network stated.