Religious leaders dare MPs over tribunal laws

February 11, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – The Inter-Religious Forum on Wednesday challenged Parliament to insulate the Constitution Amendment Bill seeking to create a Special Tribunal against the State’s interference.

National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Secretary General Reverend Cannon Peter Karanja said MPs should take up their responsibility by making amendments to the Bill and seal loopholes, since it’s their duty to make laws that are acceptable to all.

“Our politicians can not use excuses to run away from their responsibilities. We think that because … they are dilly-dallying with such a solemn matter. Unless they are telling us we don’t have a competent Parliament in which case they should pack off and hold an election,” he said.

He said all steps should be taken to prevent the Special Tribunal from being declared null and void.

“The inter-religious leaders desire to see a competent, credible and independent tribunal established in Kenya. We urge MPs to interrogate the Bill and entrench these principles rather than spread confusion among the members of the public,” he retorted.

Rev Karanja said the Bill should carry a clause similar to the one that entrenched the National Accord and Reconciliation Act in the constitution.

He said the debate in Parliament was a clear demonstration of competing forces within the political circles and called for concrete leadership.

“Kenyans are aware that most of the persons who bear greatest responsibility for perpetrating the post election violence are MPs and the Cabinet of the Grand Coalition Government.”

“MPs are in essence setting up a tribunal to try some of their colleagues. We consider the militancy being demonstrated by competing forces in Parliament as a reflection of the conflict of interest rather than honest national interest,” he said.

The inter-religious group says it is also opposed to the deletion of the provision for suspects of the violence to vacate office until they are cleared by the tribunal.

The Association of Professional Societies in East Africa (APSEA) also added its voice to those calling for a Special Tribunal to be formed to try perpetrators of poll skirmishes.

APSEA Chairman Daniel Ichang’i stated on Wednesday that under the local tribunal, perpetrators stood a better chance of being prosecuted.

He emphasised that the tribunal would also ensure that crimes against humanity do not recur.

“This tribunal is as a result of the Waki Report. This report and the recommendations therein must be fully implemented. The crimes that were committed were crimes against humanity,” Mr Ichang’i said.

“No one has any right to come and say because we had a disputed presidential election, that was enough excuse to commit crimes,” he further added.

He also called on legislators to unite in the fight for a special tribunal to be formed.

“These recommendations should be implemented under the auspices of the Eminent African Personalities acting in consultations with the President and Prime Minister with the full cooperation of Parliament,” he stated. “We as a professional body are weighing whether this tribunal will ever take place and if it does will justice ever be administered?”

The APSEA sentiments were supported by the Kenya Human Rights Commission.


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