Threats against ICC witnesses reported

January 9, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – The International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) on Friday accused a senior cabinet Minister of intimidating witnesses of the post election violence.

ICPC Executive Director Ndung’u Wainaina told a news conference that the alleged Minister has been holding a series of meetings in which death threats have been issued.

“We are gravely concerned with the heightening and intensification of well coordinated plot to silence and intimidate potential key witnesses through death threats, particularly in the North Rift and in the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps,” he asserted.

He said: “The Minister, a key suspect in the Waki envelope held a meeting with IDP officials from all camps in Rift Valley on the material day of the Mau Forest harambee.”

Mr Wainaina asked for the prioritisation of the Witness Protection Act review to ensure the safety of witnesses.

Mr Wainaina accused the government of failure to protect victims and witnesses saying it had failed to meet its commitment to implement the National Accord in totality which included ending of impunity.

He further complained that President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were not dedicated to punish impunity since they were not keen on giving the International Criminal Court the full support by protecting main witnesses.

But new challenges of investigating Kenyan perpetrators emerged after a Brussels-based international lawyers Non Governmental Organisation announced its intentions to block the International Criminal Court (ICC) from investigating Kenya’s post election violence.

Mr Wainaina described the organization, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) as ‘malicious’ and said it only wanted to delay and frustrate the ICC process in Kenya.

He said IADL argued that Kenya was able to prosecute the perpetrators locally and so there was no need for the ICC to take over.

The organisation further accused the ICC of selective intervention of African countries.

According to its resolution: “The IADL opposes the current request of the ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo for authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber to open the investigation into the crimes allegedly committed in Kenya during the post election violence.”

“The violence in Kenya did not fall within the framework of the ICC Statute and did not meet the criteria for admissibility articulated in the Rome Statute and considering the no UN body has been seized of the Kenya case, neither the General Assembly nor the Security Council.”

The group of lawyers also accused Mr Ocampo of being politically motivated to act on Kenyan perpetrators.

Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara said the group had intentions likely to affect the ICC’s decision since it has to listen to all objections brought forward.

He believed the lawyers had Kenyan links who are opposed to the ICC investigations.

Meanwhile, Mr Imanyara said witnesses were still giving their views to the ICC and estimated that the decision by the Pre Trial Camber was likely to be made by March this year.

He said ICC has a structure that it follows and would not rush to make a decision before collecting enough evidence and reasons of opening a case against the Kenyan perpetrators.


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