Kenya Churches heading to The Hague

July 2, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) is heading to the International Criminal Court next week armed with a petition to urge the court to take up the case against Kenya’s perpetrators of post poll violence.

NCCK General Secretary Canon Peter Karanja leads the delegation to seek audience with prosecutor Louis Moreno O’campo with close to one million signatures from the public supporting their case.

Canon Karanja maintains that prosecution at the ICC is the only way to guarantee justice for victims of the violence.

The council’s lawyers have already prepared the petition and on Thursday the Executive Council endorsed it and mandated Canon Karanja to deliver what they termed as the ‘wishes of afflicted Kenyans.’

“We do not think the perpetrators will be adequately tried under our current structures that are very wanting.

Canon Karanja is expressing concern that besides the disjointed efforts by the government the current law presents loopholes that can be exploited by the accused to obstruct justice. He said that the International Crimes Act ratified by the government early this year does not cover crimes committed in 2007.

“The Kenya Constitution protects individuals from being prosecuted from offences committed before the law defining these offences came into being. Those indicted could easily argue that they cannot be tried by an Act that was not in existence at the time the offences were committed,” the General Secretary cautioned.

The government is expected to rally Parliament to establish the local tribunal for the second time after the first bid was rejected by the House in February. Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo is currently in Geneva to consult with Chief Mediator over an August deadline given to the country.  Mr Annan has threatened to hand over a list of suspected perpetrators to the ICC.

“The Minister for Justice is free to go to Geneva and The Hague but NCCK has taken its position and is carrying it out without reference to the rhetoric and pronouncements of the government,” Canon Karanja asserted.

The NCCK is the second organised institution to petition the ICC to take up the Kenya case over fears of political interference with a local tribunal and a judicial system that lacks public faith. The civil society has already made contact with Mr O’campo who has said he is closely watching the unfolding events in the country.

Meanwhile, former Cabinet Minister Martha Karua and Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo asked Mr Annan not to extend the deadline by which Kenya should establish the local tribunal.

“Mr Annan will be doing a disservice to Kenya if he listens to the requests of the two Principals, it is the government that has the deadline to meet,” she said during celebrations to mark the 233rd Day of the American Independence,

Mr Kiema asked Mr Annan to take the next step as planned and ignore pleas for an extension. He said MPs will reject the Bill since they have no confidence with a local tribunal due to fear of manipulation and witch-hunt.

“I want to warn Mr Kofi Annan, if he agrees to extend the deadline he will be loosing his credibility. We want those people to be tried at The Hague,” he said.

Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende however said Kenya had the capability and confidence to try the perpetrators locally.

He said Parliament was ready to pass the Local Tribunal Bill as soon as it will be re-introduced in the House.

“Today every child, even in the villages knows about Annan’s envelope and can pronounce the term ‘Hague’…, I believe we have the capacity to try the suspects locally,” he said.


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