Tick tock, the Hague looms

December 17, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – The Waki deadline for an agreement on the establishment of a Special Tribunal for post election violence suspects expires at midnight on Wednesday as it remained unclear whether President Mwai Kibaki had appended his signature on the document.

This is the first major requirement of the Justice Phillip Waki-led panel which, if not met, will kick off an international process to try suspects at The Hague.

According to recommendations of the Waki Commission into Post Election Violence, an agreement to the setting up of a Special Tribunal is to be signed by representatives of parties to the National Accord within 60 days after the report was handed over to the Panel of Eminent African Personalities.

Reports indicate that Prime Minister Raila Odinga signed the document on Tuesday. It was reportedly drafted by the Attorney General in consultation with the eight-member National Accord Mediation Team.

The Waki report timelines give the government a further 45 days to enact ‘The Statute for the Special Tribunal’ which would legalise the formation of a local tribunal.

Failure to form the tribunal or signs of interference with its work give the Hague-based International Criminal Court the mandate to take up investigations into post election violence.

In the meantime, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) said it was unlikely that the names of post election violence suspects would be forwarded to the International Criminal Court even if Wednesday’s deadline was not met.

LSK Chairman Okongo Omogeni told Capital News that the principals had not yet shown signs of implementing the Waki report and this may buy them time.

“What the International Criminal Court wants to know is whether the country is taking positive steps towards the setting up of the tribunal. As long as the country is on course, then the international community will not invoke the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” he said.

Mr Omogeni also said it was important to remember that the Waki recommendations are not bound by law.

“The Waki recommendations remain what they are, recommendations. That is what is recommended to the international community. We only worry when it will be clear to the international community that the country does not intend at all to have the suspects tried locally,” he explained.
On Tuesday afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told a news conference that the report was still pending at a Cabinet committee tasked with coming up with an implementation strategy.

“The implementation of these reports is not optional. If we want to have a better Kenya tomorrow, we should not take the lull and use it to sweep things under the carpet. And I just hope, and pray, and believe that all my colleagues affected or unaffected, will stay the course.”


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