Kenya seeks to avoid The Hague

June 15, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 15 – Kenya has embarked on a second attempt to establish a local tribunal to try suspected perpetrators of the post-election violence, a few days after Chief Mediator Kofi Annan reiterated his August deadline with a threat to submit a secret list to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo on Monday directed the Kenya Law Reform Commission to redraft the Bill establishing the tribunal and address loopholes that led to its defeat in Parliament last year.

Mr Kilonzo urged the commission to specifically look at the entrenchment provisions that were the highest bone of contention during the debate on the tribunal early in the year.

“The complains expressed by the Members of Parliament (MP), the Media, churches, the Law Society of Kenya, the International Council of Jurists and everyone else are well documented in the Hansard and they ought to be taken aboard,” he said in his directive while on a familiarisation tour of the commission’s offices.

He however remained non-committal on the timeframe, choosing to leave it open but said the process will not be hurried to encompass consultations and avoid the hurry pitfall that befell the initial attempt.

“I want us to start the debate now even as we do the diplomacy of determining when to bring that statute,” he said.

MPs in February rejected a bid to set up the tribunal with a section claiming that the system lacked safeguards to ensure that the process was not manipulated.

The Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence (CIPEV) had proposed the establishment of a special tribunal for post election violence perpetrators, with a further recommendation for a probe into ten specific suspects. In the January 2008 massacre at least 1,133 people died while more than 300,000 others were uprooted from their homes.

The Justice Minister at the same time dismissed Mr Annan’s ultimatum saying ‘the country is not a colony.’  Mr Kilonzo will be leading a Kenyan delegation to the ICC in The Hague to consult on the working of the court and part of his itinerary includes a date with the Chief Mediator in Geneva.

“I am not going to ask for an extension from him but will be presenting to him what Kenyans are saying. I will present a Kenyan program based on the circumstances as I understand them,” he said. 

A section of legislators have remained adamant that they will not accept the tribunal with some advocating for justice at The Hague while another group say the country should instead embrace forgiveness.

“I will bring no baggage to the tribunal except only the elimination of impunity and I am sure that even those who are advocating for forgiveness will understand that while it is good to forgive we must send a signal that you must not touch another because they voted for another person,” Mr Kilonzo said in his response but added that he would consult extensively and convince fellow parliamentarians on the need for the tribunal.


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