Crisis looms in Cabinet over tribunal bill

July 25, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 25 – A fresh row looms in Cabinet after a committee mandated to review the tribunal bill refused to bulge and resolved to re-submit it in its original form at another meeting of Ministers on Monday.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo on Friday remained resolute that he cannot include Presidential powers of pardon and the Attorney’s General’s powers to withdraw cases in the special tribunal bill as they would undermine good jurisprudence.

"We are only taking to the Cabinet two options either a credible tribunal as we had proposed or for Kenya to say that we cannot handle this," Mr Kilonzo said.

He says he has the backing of a cabinet sub-committee that was formed to review the proposed bill to appease ministers so that they would adopt a home based trial. Other members of the committee are George Saitoti, James Orengo, Amason Jeffa Kingi, Otieno Kajwang’ and Attorney-General Amos Wako

That team said the original proposal meets international standards and has accused powerful government colleagues of trying to scuttle the process of setting up a local tribunal.

He however assured such people will not escape justice. 

"Prosecuted you will be so you are better off ensuring that it happens in the country so that you can have your family visit you in jail," he said.
Mr Kilonzo said that the cabinet has no option but to accept the bill in its entirety or refer the trial of suspected perpetrators of the post election violence to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Minister is expected to present this position to the cabinet next week when it meets for the third time in two weeks to seek consensus on the issue.

Besides the powers of the President and the AG, Mr Kilonzo amended bill has also blocked the Chief Justice from transferring any judge from the tribunal while Kenyan courts cannot issue any injunction.

Parliament in February shot down the original tribunal bill and a number of Members of Parliament have vowed to block any fresh attempt to set up a local tribunal.

Besides the tribunal there has been a proposal to establish a special division within the Kenyan courts to try the suspects.

Chief Justice Evan Gicheru has also said the Kenyan judiciary was capable of carrying out the trials.



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