KHRC to challenge govt bid at The Hague

March 12, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 12 – The Kenya Human Rights Commission has vowed to challenge the government’s attempt to object to the ICC process, at The Hague, when the case facing six Kenyans is heard.

KHRC Executive Director Muthoni Wanyeki said the non governmental organization would apply for a standing as amicus curiae (friends of the court), meaning it would volunteer information in favour of The Hague trials.

Ms Wanyeki explained that the civil society would be working with 50 victims’ groups to help them challenge the government’s position.

“So far there are 40 to 50 groups that have been identified across the country. But it’s important to note here that victims of the whole situation will be able to follow the case to conclusion as soon as the charges are confirmed,” she said.

She discounted the government’s challenge of the international trials saying Kenya had not yet reformed its criminal justice system. Ms Wanyeki argued that the country needed to have had a system in place, already, in order to substantiate its argument.

“It’s going to take quite a long time. We have not completed police reforms, there is no independent Director of Public Prosecutions in place and judicial reforms have not been completed. So to say that this could take place within the next four or six months is highly dubious,” she argued.

Ms Wanyeki said it would also be difficult to challenge the jurisdiction of the Court because crimes against humanity were committed in the country during the post election violence.

KHRC Programmes Officer Andrew Odete questioned the timing of the government’s move saying it was suspicious.

Mr Odete explained that when the ICC matter first came up for mention, in 2008, the government was issued with a notification from the Court’s Prosecutor indicating his intention but it did not raise any objections.

“One month after that notification the government of Kenya had the duty and the responsibility to come up and say we have commenced investigations or that investigations have been concluded. So coming round at this point to challenge admissibility smirks of mischief,” he said.

KHRC also objected to the government’s shuttle diplomacy to the United Nations Security Council, seeking a deferral of the ICC cases, terming it an exercise in futility and a waste of public resources.

The US on Thursday suggested that it would veto Kenya’s application to have the ICC process delayed for one year. This means that the entire motion will be thrown out, even if the other permanent members of the Security Council support it.

“The grounds for a deferral do not exist because there is no threat to peace and security posed by the ICC process. The Vice President should therefore end his exercise which has already unnecessarily cost Kenyan tax payers, by his own estimates, over Sh60 million,” she said.

She added that it would also be unfair for Kenyans to bear the cost of defending the six ICC suspects because they each bore individual responsibility.

While making reference to opinion studies conducted by various pollsters, Ms Wanyeki also argued that a majority of Kenyans were in support of the ICC process.

“A poll conducted in February shows that 61 percent of Kenyans do not support the call for a deferral or withdrawal from the Rome Statute. Another 57 percent of Kenyans support the ICC process,” she said.

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