Karua warns against ditching ICC

January 25, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – Gichugu Member of Parliament Martha Karua has questioned the government\’s commitment to fully support a local tribunal to try 2008 post election violence suspects if it is established.

Ms Karua on Tuesday expressed concerns that the government may go as far as withdrawing some resources to scuttle the indictment of the Ocampo Six.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has filed a case against six Kenyans whom he argues bore greatest responsibility for the 2008 violence that saw more than 1,500 Kenyans killed and over 650,000 displaced from their homes.

Those named by Mr Ocampo are the Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Police Commissioner Maj Gen (rtd) Hussein Ali. Others are suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang.

Ms Karua accused politicians of trashing the International Criminal Court when it was merely beginning its work.

"We are shouting ourselves hoarse to scare the ICC away as though our voices are the ones that are going to reach The Hague," she said.

"We’ve really got to think what we want of our country. We don\’t know how much more is going to come when people are indicted for other offences. We have to bite the bullet; the process is not going to be a honeymoon," the former Justice Minister added.

Speaking at a forum on the role of media in promoting public understanding of the ICC, she said there was need to reform the country\’s justice system as well as improve investigation machinery.

Former Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission vice chairperson Betty Murungi said that if the Ocampo Six were tried at the ICC, the court could pay their legal fees if they are declared indigence (poor) as provided for in the Rome Statute.

"You go and sign a paper declaring that you cannot afford to pay the legal fees. I have seen some of the figures quoted that people want to raise Sh40 million or Sh120 million for legal fees but it\’s going to be about 10 times more than that so the ones that feel they can afford to pay the legal fees that\’s really great… the court is always short on resources like they always say," she said.

Ms Karua went on to accuse the media of failure to highlight the real issues regarding the ICC.

She said the coverage of the ICC had failed to address some of the important concerns like why Kenya had involved the court and the consequences of failing to fight impunity.

"The media has let the political class behave very badly and get away with it but we need to remember that elections are an event that occurs seasonally but lives of people must continue on a daily basis," she said.

Ms Murungi on the other hand said the media had lost its agenda-setting role.

"There was a time when they were almost getting it but somehow with the names of the suspects becoming public, there was a reversal," she said.

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