Let us not be vague, avoid the Hague

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By WANGARI MAATHAI

The debate on whether we should have a local tribunal is healthy, but needs to be resolved to put an end to the issue of the Waki envelope to Kofi Annan.

A local tribunal is better for the country than The Hague. This is because it is important for us to learn to confront our own demons and deal with them fairly and justly.

The process of trials and judgments will enhance faith in our judicial system. A local tribunal will force Kenya to examine herself closely, and challenge her sense of justice. The process of trying those who incited, financed and committed murders, rape, arson, theft and other crimes against humanity, will strengthen our justice system. We shall learn the value of respecting the rule of law and resolving conflicts in a civilized way.

It is politicians who have always masterminded the tribal clashes in this country, including in 1991, 1992, 1997 and 2007. It is essential that they learn that inciting violence and financing militia to go and kill fellow citizens and destroy their property is a crime against humanity that carries heavy penalties. It will also send a message that the country will not tolerate impunity especially from its leaders. Peaceful co-existence between the different communities will only be realised when the rule of law is respected by all. 

Since its colonial days, this country has a history of impunity, where rights of individuals are violated but the violators go unpunished. That must end with the post-election violence of 2008. The country psyche can only change to respect the rule of law if those who commit crimes face justice irrespective of their positions in society.

Dealing with the truth and upholding justice will be a step towards healing, reconciliation and restitution. After the process, we shall be a proud people who could handle their affairs as if we are indeed a sovereign state that does not need other states to deal with citizens who must face justice: Kenya is not a failed state!

A local tribunal will demonstrate that Kenya is not a weak state that cannot administer justice to its citizens. That, on the contrary, it is a strong sovereign state, which expects its citizens to respect the rule of law and protect human rights of all.

As they said in Parliament, LET US NOT BE VAGUE, AVOID THE HAGUE!

(Prof Maathai is the 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate)

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