US and UK criticise Kenya Cabinet

August 4, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 – The United States on Tuesday criticised Kenya for failing to form a special tribunal to try suspects in the 2007 election violence, hours before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrival in the country.

Clinton and her entourage, which includes the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, landed in the Kenyan capital at around 1530 GMT.

The government last week said it would reform the police and the Judiciary and amend the law establishing a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation panel for the unrest in an apparent shift from efforts to establish a local court.

"The United States is deeply concerned by the coalition government’s decision that appears to indicate it will not pursue establishment of an independent special tribunal to hold accountable perpetrators of post-election violence," a statement from the US embassy said.

It said the government’s decision was "not a credible approach in the eyes of the Kenyan people and the international community."

Parliament in February rejected a government bill aimed at establishing the local tribunal, arguing that it would be prone to political interference. The Cabinet has been divided over the matter.

"The United States will stand firmly behind the Kenyan people as they insist on full implementation of the reform agenda. We will take the necessary steps to hold accountable those who do not support the reform agenda or who support violence," the US statement said.

Mrs Clinton begins a tour of seven African countries in Kenya, where she is to open a trade forum and hold talks with President Mwai Kibaki and other senior government officials.

Meanwhile, British envoy Rob McCaire said his government would consider banning suspected perpetrators of the post election violence from travelling to the United Kingdom.

He said they’ll join the list of more than 20 powerful individuals already banned due to corruption allegations.

“We have a policy of not allowing individuals who have been responsible for inciting violence; it is also a global policy. That is a policy we are looking at, very hard (and) at the moment we will keep it under review,” he said.

Britain issued the visa bans of the ‘20 plus’ prominent politicians and businessmen in 2006 following massive corruption allegations in Kenya related to famous scandals of Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing.

The Waki Commission and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights produced lists of suspected perpetrators of the post election violence that saw the killings of more than 1,500 people and uprooting of 500,000 others from their homes.

To date, the government has not clearly decided on how they will be punished apart from calling for the strengthening of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

Mr McCaire said his government was working to fight impunity and will do whatever it takes to bar chief perpetrators from going to their country.

He spoke during a meeting with Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ to discuss illegal Kenyan immigrants living in the U.K.

Mr McCaire said both Kenya and the UK were facing immigration challenges and it was important for the two countries to work together to prevent people from abusing immigration processes.

He also said addressing the challenges will make it easier for legitimate travellers movement without complications.

The envoy further noted their cooperation will help Britain identify illegal immigrants.

The Minister said such cases were familiar but it was difficult to check individual’s data as it would be a violation of the existing laws.

However he said his Ministry was working on an amendment of the law seeking to allow the Ministry to give information about individuals in question on request.

“Within our law as it stands now, it is very difficult to give information on anybody who is in our database on request because the law is very restricting,” he noted.

But he said before the amendments, Kenya and Britain could agree on ways of identifying the illegal immigrants without infringing the law.


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