NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19 – A legal expert with the Human Rights Watch group has urged the government to use the scheduled meeting with International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo to officially hand over the Kenyan case.
Elizabeth Evenson says with time running out for seeking justice the government should avoid delaying tactics including justifying itself over the trial of suspected perpetrators of post election violence.
“There have been many deadlines that have come and gone and we still haven’t seen any action on national prosecutions,” she said.
Ms Evenson said President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have an opportunity to prove their proclaimed commitment to elimination of impunity.
“This cannot just be another meeting just to talk and have nothing going on,” she said.
Mr Ocampo is expected in the country in a fortnight for a meeting with the two principals to follow-up on the possibility of the ICC taking over prosecutions.
In a Cabinet resolution in July, the government rejected proposals for a ‘water tight’ local tribunal and settled to use the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the local courts to deliver justice.
Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara has revived efforts for a local tribunal and has introduced a Private Members Bill. The Bill is scheduled to be brought before the House once it reopens in November. The Bill also seeks to have the government hand over prosecution of key suspects to the ICC.
Mr Ocampo has in the past made it clear that he intends to use the Kenyan case ‘as an example’ of how to deal with impunity.
Ms Evenson added that besides trying the key suspects the ICC can also help Kenya in setting up an effective and independent local justice system.
“Once you have the local tribunal in place it might be possible for the ICC to share its expertise on a number of issues whether it is investigations, prosecutions and witness protection and show how the international process can work hand in hand with the local system,” she said.
There have been a lot of expectations from Kenyans that justice would finally be delivered once the ICC stepped in. However Ms Evenson cautioned that there was need to inform the public that the process would take longer than perceived.
“Kenyans should have some expectations of the ICC but at the same time these should be realistic and based on as much information as possible on how the court works,” she emphasised.