Kenya Special Tribunal gathers impetus

August 11, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 11 – Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara has said a Bill he is taking to Parliament to establish a Special Tribunal to deal with perpetrators of post election violence seeks to have the suspects tried simultaneously in Kenya and at The Hague.

Mr Imanyara who was reacting to statements by some members of government that backbenchers in Parliament had back-pedalled on their preference for the International Criminal Court (ICC) said there would be a provision for the financiers to face charges at The Hague while those who executed the killings would be prosecuted locally.

"There has been no change in our position. We remain committed to the trial of those who bore the greatest responsibility in the PEV to The Hague… but we recognise given the number of people involved that the ICC must work with us which (is a provision that) had been left out totally in the previous government Bills."

Speaking at the launch of an interactive website aimed at enhancing consultations on the Bill, Mr Imanyara said that he would not be intimidated in his pursuit for justice especially for those affected by the post poll violence.

"History has repeated examples of such people (perpetrators) and they also fail," he added. "The fact that you can whip up ethnic passions for a day or two to a week is no justification to enabling the culture of impunity to continue.  My message to my colleagues who are intimidating or blackmailing us that we are fixing a (particular) community is that this is about Kenya and ending impunity," he said.

He referred to former dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein who used to stir ethnic passions among their supporters when they felt they were targeted by justice seekers.

"Hitler used to get his supporters behind him, but he died alone in a bunker; look at Saddam… the other day he could address hundreds of thousands," he said.

The launch of the website was attended by members of the Law Society of Kenya, International Commission of Jurists, civil society and seven other Members of Parliament.

The backbenchers are urging Kenyans to pile pressure on government to deal with the culture of impunity should the Bill fail to acquire the required two-thirds parliamentary majority.

"This is an opportunity that I think provides the last resort for those in the Executive arm of government and Parliament to show the Kenyan public that there is a commitment to deal with the culture of impunity," he said.

"Once it fails we shall be asking Kenyans directly to take over through peaceful demonstrations and protests like we have seen in other parts of the world."

During his meeting with the civil society, LSK vice chairman James Aggrey Mwamu and Haroun Ndubi urged the lawmaker to sensitise Kenyans on the contents of the Bill to guard against misinformation that is being perpetuated by his opposers.

City lawyer Paul Muite said the Bill had moved to close the loopholes that the led to the rejection of the Local Tribunal Bill last February.

Legislators who accompanied Mr Imanyara during the launch of the website vowed to lobby more MPs to support the new Bill.

"We need to ensure we get the number because if you look at the Cabinet they already have 92 members so we are short by some numbers," Mr Muite said.

Mr Imanyara said he would hold meetings with various interest groups over the next two weeks to collect their views. He was expected to meet members of the religious community on Wednesday.

On Monday, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo told Capital News in an exclusive interview that he would back Mr Imanyara’s Bill.  The Minister said he was ready to work with the Imenti Central MP and other backbenchers to ensure that the Bill goes through Parliament.

"It’s quite a challenge but I will join in every way to make sure that his proposals are taken for what they are.  It is good that Mr Imanyara has seen the writing on the wall on this. I think the original opposition to the Tribunal Bill by the backbenchers was probably not well thought of," he said. "I hope he has mobilised the numbers to push for a constitutional amendment."


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