Kenya ready for ICC prosecutor

October 1, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 1 – Cornered by the failure to meet the deadline set by the International Criminal Court to try suspected perpetrators of post election violence, Kenya now says Luis Moreno Ocampo is at liberty to start prosecutions.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo said he had written to the ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo saying he was ready to start consultations on the process.

Mr Kilonzo said the government would support the ICC in its work in the country and said he was ready to arrange an official visit for Mr Ocampo into the country.

"I have just written a response to his letter and I am going to have a phone conversation with him later today," he told reporters on Thursday.

In a letter to Mr Kilonzo the prosecutor had expressed desire to start consultations with the Minister on the way forward after the lapse of the Wednesday deadline.

On Wednesday, Mr Ocampo revealed he was adopting a three-prolonged approach in which the ICC would deal with the key planners and financiers while other suspects would be handled by a local tribunal and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

"I welcome his very intelligent proposals and accept that Kenya should offer leadership to the world on how to deal with violence," he said.

Mr Kilonzo however said it was the responsibility of the Attorney General as the Chief government Prosecutor and the Internal Security Minister George Saitoti who handles international crimes to officially invite Ocampo to start the prosecutions.

"As the Minister in charge of policy if they don’t invite him I surely will," he said.

The ICC had given Kenya until September 30 to show progress setting local mechanisms of trying the suspects. The Cabinet however in July rejected a second attempt to establish a water tight local tribunal dashing any hopes of a local solution to the crisis. Earlier in February Members of Parliament had rejected the tribunal claiming that it would be open to manipulation by the executive.

Determined to ensure justice is administered in its entirety backbench MPs are set to introduce a private members bill seek the establishment of a local tribunal to try minor suspects as the ICC deals with the prime suspects.

The Bill sponsored by Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara is expected for debate once parliament re-opens.  Mr Kilonzo however said that the bill still doesn’t meet the desired international standards.

"He has not stepped back some of the powers and immunities I deeply believe that he should have. We should have scenario where nobody is bigger than another where we are all under law," he said.

In the meantime, MPs who have been pushing for the recognition of an Opposition caucus say they plan to meet Ocampo when he comes to Kenya.

Garsen MP Danson Mungatana said want to give Ocampo correct facts since they do not believe this will emerge in scheduled talks with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Mr Mungatana said when the group of MPs sought audience and met US secretary of State Hilary Clinton during her visit to Kenya, "things started moving."

"This government likes giving fairy tale stories about what is happening in the country. They are good in story-telling and painting rosy good pictures to visitors who are unaware of what is happening," he said.

He said the Grand Coalition Government of President Kibaki and PM Odinga do not care about punishing key suspects of post poll violence, since a number of those implicated sat in the Cabinet.

"This government is doing everything possible to protect them. Some sit in Cabinet with the President and Prime minister. The government will not hand any chief suspect in the Ocampo list to the ICC for prosecution," he said.

He said it was time Ocampo made public the names in the Waki envelope and subsequently issue warrants to secure their arrest.

"Warrants do not expire and we know Ocampo will only catch up with these guys after this regime changes in 2012 since we know the government will hand none to ICC," he said.


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