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More backing for Special Tribunal

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 9 – Debate over whether suspects implicated in the 2007 post-election violence should be tried by a local tribunal or at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague continued on Monday, with two civil society organisations backing prosecution in Kenya.

The Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya (FIDA) and the Muslim Human Rights Forum said a Special Tribunal would ensure the masterminds of the violence and petty offenders were all punished.

“The local tribunal comes straight out of the recommendations of the Waki Commission and is a key mechanism for addressing impunity in this country,” FIDA Executive Director Patricia Nyaundi told journalists at a news conference.

Ms Nyaundi said taking perpetrators of the violence to the ICC should only be considered once the prospects of establishing a local tribunal had totally failed.

“As Kenyans we must work to restore confidence in our institutions. Parliament must ensure that the tribunal has adequate constitutional protection thereby restoring public confidence in our judicial system.”

Also supporting the formation of a local tribunal was Muslim Human Rights Forum Director Al-Amin Kimathi, who stressed in an interview with Capital News that the option of the International Criminal Court if taken, would see cases drag for a long period.

“The Special Tribunal can handle the second group of perpetrators and even the third, but the ICC can only prosecute very few of the top guns themselves,” observed Mr Kimathi.

“We have also seen from the conduct of the ICC so far that we do not have many cases tried there… the process is rather long.”

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Mr Kimathi however emphasised the need to strengthen the Bill seeking to establish the Special Tribunal.

“Let’s go back and re-write the legislation of the Special Tribunal. Let’s have a forum here that is constitutionally mandated,” he said and added: “Let’s have a Special Tribunal that addresses the gaps and the loopholes that we have identified so far.”

Parliament is expected to vote on the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill which seeks to entrench the Special Tribunal into the Constitution on Tuesday.

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