IDPs forgotten at the expense of ICC Six

April 8, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – German Ambassador to Kenya Margit Hellwig Boette has expressed concern over the manner in which Kenyans are handling the ICC issue, saying they need to re-direct their attention to the fate of the victims of the 2008 post-election violence.

Speaking after launching a guide book for journalists on the rule of law, Ms Hellwig said that the country had gone back to the ethnic balkanisation that led to the post poll chaos, which saw 1,500 killed and another 500,000 displaced.

She added that Kenyans need to stop politicising the International Criminal Court (ICC) process and instead focus on preventing a repeat of the violence.

"I think that the way Kenyan politicians and the media are looking at the ICC issue at the moment gives a wrong impression. Everybody is focusing on the fate of the Ocampo Six and nobody is talking about the IDPs. I think this is what the issue is about," she argued.

Ms Hellwig further asked the country\’s lawmakers to fast track the implementation of the reform agenda saying it would help correct past injustices. She noted that it was crucial for the country to spearhead the realisation of judicial, electoral and police reforms before the next general election.

"Focusing on reforms and all the things that have to be done especially now that the Constitution is in place is very important. The real work has to be done and not just writing letters to the (UN) Security Council pretending that things are being done," she said.

She further renewed her calls for the establishment of a special local tribunal to try other perpetrators of the post poll chaos who have not been targeted by the ICC. She argued that the ICC would not fight the country\’s impunity unless there were local efforts to complement it.

"The country has come a long way but without respect for human rights, history might repeat itself and impunity will continue haunting Kenya," she said.

The German ambassador also commended efforts that were being made so far in setting up the devolution governance structures.

"My impression is that in the ministries, a lot of work is being done and I think the task force on devolution government is doing a good job. But no one talks about these things because at the top political level people are too focused on the ICC issue," she said.

Ms Margit further challenged the media to self-regulate and ensure statements that incite tribal passions were not broadcast. She argued that the media bore the responsibility of watching over national interests and should therefore ignore divisive statements made by leaders.

"Returning to hate speech and inciting people to violence is not compatible with the responsibilities of the media. It is important to do capacity building and report on the rule of law," she said.

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