Civil society in bid to block ICC deferral

February 7, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7- A group of civil societies on Monday launched a campaign seeking to collect one million signatures from Kenyans by February 28, to protest against the International Criminal Court (ICC) deferral motion.

The lobbyists led by the Green Belt Movement (GBM) which was founded by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai said they had already collected 100,000 signatures and would present all the submissions to Parliament once their task was accomplished.

GBM Acting Executive Director, Karanja Njoroge, explained that the Railways bus terminus, the Kencom bus stop, the Ngara bus terminus, the Machakos country bus terminus and an additional 4,000 centers across the country would act as collection points for the signatures.

“We will present these signatures to the Speaker of the National Assembly as a statement from Kenyans; that we don’t want them to go that route. We want them to make sure that we ground our country within the confines of the new Constitution,” he argued.

Kenyans willing to participate in the drive would also be required to carry their Identity Cards or Passports as proof of their nationality.

“It’s very useful for those who come to sign to prove to us that they are Kenyans because we also want an above-board process. We don’t want to take signatures from people we don’t know; so people will sign against their ID cards,” he explained.

Mr Njoroge added that the civil societies would mobilise Kenyans and demonstrate against the law makers if Parliament ignored their plea: “If that doesn’t work, we will wait for 2012 because we are the ones with votes and we will make our decision very clear.”

He added that the move to delay the ICC process against six Kenyans wanted over the 2008 post election violence would breed impunity and undermine the country’s reform agenda. He further took issue with the African Union for advancing Kenya’s deferral motion saying the move was ill placed.

Kenya has already indicated her intention to lobby member states of the United Nations Security Council in her attempts to delay the ICC case.

“The move is not helpful to Kenyans and it is not adding any value to our process of getting this country back on track. We must all rise above petty politics to ensure that there is no repeat of the 2007 violence,” he said.

He further challenged those who had doubts and questions over the ICC process to follow the right procedures of having them settled.

“We should not fear because the ICC does not jail innocent people. If you believe the person you like, among the six, is innocent then also believe that the ICC cannot jail a blameless person so let them go there and defend themselves,” he quipped.

Mr Njoroge also argued that the ICC process would help Kenya confront her past and move forward as Kenyans had little faith in local judicial mechanisms.

“That process needs to go on so that people whose wives, daughters and mothers were raped can have a chance to heal; people whose families, especially in Kiambaa church, were burnt to death can have a chance to heal,” he retorted.

Other civil societies that have engaged in the drive include: Kituo Cha Sheria, Muhuri and various groups representing Internally Displaced Persons. The Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Center for Multiparty Democracy are also, separately, running their one million signature drive.

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