Kenya cabinet meets to push local tribunal

July 19, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – Kenya’s Cabinet was due to hold a special sitting on Monday to discuss the establishment of a home-based trial for suspected masterminds of last year’s post-election violence in a bid to prevent the case going to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) urged the Cabinet to use the meeting at State House Nairobi to reach consensus on the issue.

"We want a local solution to this problem but If they establish something to white wash us, we will stand against it," said KHRC Acting Deputy Executive Director Tom Kagwe.

He said Cabinet should move fast and ensure justice for victims of the deadly skirmishes.

"I am urging the Cabinet to see the amount of desperation and anger that Kenyans are having today. If the Cabinet is there to serve the Republic of Kenya, then they had better do so," he said.

The meeting comes nearly a week after Cabinet disagreed on a new proposal for the establishment of a local tribunal with Ministers disagreeing sharply.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo had tabled proposals which he said had "sufficient safeguards" that would protect the tribunal from any manipulation.

The KHRC at the same time supported the prosecution of suspected perpetrators of the violence both locally and internationally.

Mr Kagwe however said a special tribunal should mirror international standards, be impartial and credible.

"The International Criminal Court or a Local Tribunal are the ideal options and they can run concurrently," Mr Kagwe said.

He said those calling for the establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to prosecute the perpetrators were misleading Kenyans because such a commission had no powers to indict offenders.

"The ICC can prosecute those who are highly responsible for the violence and the domestic process can take over the rest. Let’s not muddle our search for justice with politics; many Kenyans are crying out for justice, those whose shops were looted, property destroyed and raped," he said.

At the same time the civil society is reading foul play in the sudden shift by some politicians to seek the TJRC route to try the suspects.

International Centre for Policy and Conflict Executive Director Ndung’u Wainaina said the TRJC is distinct from courts and doesn’t determine criminal liability.

"The envisioned truth commission can only come up with reports and recommendations and any one trying to mislead Kenyans such a commission can be used to try suspects is subverting justice," Mr. Wainaina said.

Haki Focus Director Haron Ndubi accused politicians of scheming to impede justice by creating anxiety among Kenyans.

He said politicians claiming a local tribunal would see an upsurge of violence were misleading Kenyans.

"Are they suggesting government has failed and will fail to maintain peace or are they suggesting that they are the ones who are going to promote the wars and chaos they are predicting?" he asked.

Mr Ndubi also faulted some ministers for hiding behind Cabinet to slow down the justice process.

"When the agreements were signed in February last year there was no cognisance that cabinet will have a role to decide which way to follow. It has now become a gate keeper for those who suspect they may be in the Waki list," he said.


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