, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 20 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) on Monday criticised Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo for saying that Kenya would deal with the post election violence on its own, downplaying the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
KNCHR Commissioner Hassan Omar Hassan told a news conference that Mr Kilonzo’s comments portrayed a lack of commitment by the government to deal with the 2007 post election violence.
“The Minister’s turn around might be a pointer that the government plans on reneging on its commitments to the ICC, and in the interim to frustrate the ICC investigations,” he claimed.
He said the Commission was surprised that the Minister could make such comments despite having assured the ICC that Kenya would cooperate.
“The Commission is shocked and puzzled by the remarks of our Justice Minister and call upon him to give clarity to his assertions and mitigate the ensuing confusion.”
Mr Hassan also did not understand why the Minister made the comments just two weeks after signing an MOU with ICC Registrar, who visited the country.
He said Mr Kilonzo was misplaced to say that Kenya would deal with the perpetrators of the 2007 post election violence since nothing had been done since the tragic chaos took place three years ago.
Mr Hassan said having a new Constitution did not mean dealing with the 2007-2008 violence as the Minister had portrayed, and asserted that the reform agenda would take a long time to be implemented.
He said having a new Constitution also did not mean delaying justice for the victims of the violence.
The Commissioner dismissed assumptions that Kenya could withdraw from the ICC investigations after passing a new Constitution, and explained that the Constitution actually required Kenya to honour international laws that it is a signatory to.
However he reminded Kenya that it had a role to play in dealing with perpetrators charged with smaller responsibilities in the violence, since the ICC will only deal with a few individuals charged with the highest responsibility.
Mr Hassan said it was unfortunate that Parliament had already rejected three Bills that were seeking to establish a local tribunal.
The Commissioner expressed concerns that Kenya was yet to put a Witness Protection Agency in place to protect witnesses and victims of the post election violence.
Mr Kilonzo on Saturday said that Kenya would deal with the post election violence, implying that the ICC should step aside.
However, his remarks came as ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo was planning a visit to Kenya to investigate those charged with the highest responsibility.
Two weeks ago, Kenya also promised to cooperate with the court and even allowed it to set up office in the country.