NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) is still pushing for the creation of a special tribunal to try the post 2007 election violence suspects.
Vice Chairman Hassan Omar Hassan said on Wednesday that Kenya needed to come up with its own solutions to the problems it was facing instead of outsourcing justice.
Addressing a news conference, Mr Hassan also said Tuesday’s failure by the Cabinet to agree on the formation of a home-based trial for suspects was underestimating the enormity of the crisis in the country.
“And I think it has serious consequences in terms of moving closer to the intervention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which will have serious repercussions upon an indictment on the country and its leadership,” the KNCHR Vice Chairman said.
A crucial Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday failed to agree on the formation of a special tribunal with the ministers disagreeing sharply. The six-hour meeting at State House Nairobi chaired by President Mwai Kibaki openly disagreed with proposals tabled by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo despite putting what he had termed as “sufficient safeguards” that would protect the tribunal from any manipulation.
Mr Hassan added that an indictment by the ICC would put the country on a tight spot.
“This will probably lead to severe suffering of some of the most critical pillars of our country including tourism where Kenya then will be cast as a failed State,” he said.
He said that although the fears expressed that forming a special tribunal would disintegrate the country were genuine, the process was critical for the country to heal.
“Healing is not just by hugging, it doesn’t work that way anymore. These are the same perpetrators of 1992, 1997 and it’s high time we turned a leaf,” he stated.
“And this is not politics, we saw pictures of children turned into ashes, you don’t call that a revolution or protesting election theft. If you are a real warrior face the other warrior. We must stop this campaign of malice and hatred,” he said.
At the same time, the Vice Chair called for the de-politicisation of the police force to ensure quality services to Kenyans.
Mr Hassan claimed that the police force was currently being used to serve the elite in the country.
“This is fundamentally skewed and that is essentially the characteristic of the colonial police force,” he said.
“First and foremost we need to move the police from a force to a service to ensure that it has some of the most critical pillars of police reforms.”
He said there was also need to ensure police were given decent living standards to motivate them.
Mr Hassan said there was also need to change the leadership and systems of the police force simultaneously to ensure a responsive and accountable force.
“I think most of the taskforces and commissions are not really necessary. But it is a style of leadership in this country that manages either by crisis or postponement. Everybody knows what police reform entails; there are clear guidelines and part of the powers of instituting police reforms are within the Executive.”
Elsewhere a legal expert has warned that the disagreement by the Cabinet on the establishment of the local tribunal will cause heightened confusion in the country. Betty Murungi an expert in international law said that both the Cabinet and Parliament have a responsibility to come up with a home based process to try perpetrators of last year’s violence.
“Last week we were dealing with MPs who did not want a tribunal but now we are dealing with a Cabinet that does not want a tribunal or trial at The Hague,” she said.
Ms Murungi further cautioned that the proposal to allow the President and the Attorney General retain their powers to discontinue cases at the tribunal would not be acceptable to the international community since it does not meet the laid down standards.
“We have to hold both the Cabinet and Parliament accountable and pressure them to provide us with some kind of mechanism,” she said.
Ms Murungi also cautioned against substituting a local judicial trial with either the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission or the International Criminal Court. She said that to end the culture of impunity, a trial of those behind the violence should run concurrently with the TJRC process.
“Even if the ICC prosecutes a few people, that doesn’t end the impunity in this country. We will still have sporadic and periodical violence especially during elections,” she said.