NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 – At least 67 parliamentarians have signed up in support of a Private Member’s Bill seeking to establish a Special Tribunal to try suspected perpetrators of last year’s post election violence.
Public Investment Committee Chairman Mithika Linturi, one of the Members of Parliament (MP) behind the initiative, said on Monday that 60 of the supporters were fellow backbenchers while the rest were assistant ministers. Mr Linturi told Capital News that he was enthusiastic the Bill would receive the required 145 votes for a constitutional amendment.
“With this number in the first week of the Bill and going with what we are hearing from Members and Ministers at public rallies, I am satisfied we are going in the right direction,” he said of the initiative launched by 11 MPs.
“I am happy that Kenyans will get justice with the formation of this tribunal,” he said.
Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara is sponsoring the bill and has received support from the civil society and within government. Parliament – led by the same backbenchers – in February rejected an earlier bill by former Justice Minister Martha Karua vouching for local trials through a special court. They then argued that such a process would be interfered with by the powerful people behind the mayhem.
The new bid comes less than a month after the Cabinet rejected a similar Tribunal Bill by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and chose to use the local justice system as well as the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to deal with the violence. Interestingly a number of Ministers have backed the new bid disagreeing with a Cabinet resolution.
“I just hope Mr Imanyara can marshal the numbers to enable the Bill sail through,” Mr Kilonzo told Capital News a week ago indicating his support for the Bill.
Mr Imanyara’s team is currently fine-tuning the Bill before its debut in the House anytime now.
“Being a Constitutional Bill it can never be amended on the floor of the House. So we have to look at all the sections carefully before it is brought before the House to avoid it failing,” Mr Linturi said.
Concerning reports that a section of the backbenchers had vowed to shoot down the Bill when it is brought before Parliament, Mr Linturi hoped that they are not being used by senior politicians to block the course of justice.
“I would really like them to consult their constituents when they are speaking because to end the culture of impunity in this country we must come out very strongly and lead by example,” he said.
The Bill seeks a double faceted approach to the violence. While the ICC will be left to deal with the main suspects, a Special Tribunal for Kenya will handle the rest of the suspects. It also gives the Speaker of the National Assembly powers to gazette it if the President fails within 14 days of passage to assent to the Bill.
The ICC is currently holding onto a list of suspects perceived to be the main people behind the violence. According to an agreement Mr Kilonzo signed with the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in July the government will officially hand over the Kenyan case to the court within a year if it fails to deal with the matter conclusively itself.