, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7 – Religious groups under the banner Association of Evangelicals of Africa on Tuesday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure that any suspected masterminds of the post election violence were given a free and fair hearing.
The groups which maintained that they were keen on seeing justice delivered to victims and the perpetrators of the crisis, argued that the ICC should not be selective in prosecuting any of the suspects.
Chairman Mario Hing added that Kenya should also find home-grown solutions in dealing with the 2008 post election chaos.
“We are also awake to the journey that the country is taking towards ensuring justice for the victims of the unfortunate election violence. But we believe Africa has the capacity and potential of finding local solutions to its problems,” he said.
The leaders also asked Kenyans not to politicise the ICC process as it would only serve to increase ethnic and political tensions.
Regional President Arthur Kitonga also urged Kenyans to have more faith in local judicial mechanisms and not to bank all their hope on the international systems.
“Not everyone will be taken to The Hague so we need to believe that the other offenders can be prosecuted locally. We have good judges here who can do what is required of them. I mean we have everything going for us and we should seize the opportunity,” he argued.
The clergy also faulted Members of Parliament for turning down the proposal to set up a special tribunal for the post election violence. Through their advocate Judy Kalinga, they held that the lawmakers should not have been quick in rejecting the special tribunal.
“Our political leaders opted against the local tribunal mainly because of politics but I believe we should make our own independent decisions because we are a sovereign state. In fact the sense that we get now is that politicians are beginning to feel that a special tribunal might have been a fairer system,” she said.
Last week Attorney General Amos Wako claimed that the ICC might not have enough evidence to incriminate any of the suspected masterminds of the post poll chaos. During the same week a group of MPs accused the ICC of colluding with Prime Minister Raila Odinga in order to sway the 2012 election outcome in his favour.
There were also claims that politicians wanted to withdraw Kenya as a State party to the ICC. However this move would not make any difference to the ongoing ICC processes in the country. Besides that, the ICC has maintained that it is a non-partisan player with interests on the crimes against humanity that were committed in 2008.
Meanwhile the religious leaders also asked politicians and Kenyans to avoid any sideshows that would derail the country’s reform agenda.
“We stand in prayer with Kenyans and with all their arms of government as they take the necessary steps in ensuring that Kenyans reap the full benefits of the new constitutional order. And we believe Kenya will reach greater heights,” said Rev Hing.
Dr Kitonga added that Kenyans should focus more on the future as opposed to the past in order to propel the country forward.
“We should all open a new chapter in our lives so that we are able to save this country and move forward as one. We need to remember that when we have problems as a nation, the poor and vulnerable suffer most. So let us be mindful of each other,” he said.