, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 25 – The delayed formation of the International Crimes Division (ICD) at the Kenyan High Court has left Kenyans worried of the judiciary and the government’s commitment in putting up the unit.
With a firm pledge late last year, from a committee tasked to put it up, that things will start taking shape from the beginning of this year, little has been heard on the progress made so far.
Sam Kobia, the chairman of a five-member committee responsible for its formation, in November announced that the process was on course, “and things could start taking shape from January.”
Human Rights advocate Ndungu Wainaina who also heads the International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC), a Non Governmental Organisation based in Nairobi, says the mandate of setting up the division solely lies at the judiciary.
“The Executive has a very limited role to play in forming the ICD,” he said, and urged the judiciary to hasten the process.
Although the state has a limited role if any to play, Wainaina said it is still partly responsible because the Attorney General’s office is playing what he termed a “facilitative role.”
“From many consultative meetings that have taken place, including global visits, it was felt the need to get it right,” he said.
While attending the Assembly of States parties in The Hague, Netherlands in November, Rev Kobia was optimistic in his speech, at a forum organized on the sidelines of the meeting where he assured of the committee’s commitment to put it up.
However, little has been heard from the Judiciary since the beginning of the month, with Kobia not immediately available to provide an update of its progress.
Kenyans interviewed however, expressed the need for an accelerated establishment of the special division of the High Court—which will mainly compliment the work done by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“We want to see more commitment, in having this special division of the high court established because this is something that has worked elsewhere, it should work here as well,” Benjamin Kibet, an IT specialist in Nairobi said.
Kibet is optimistic that once established, the special court will deal with middle-level perpetrators of the 2007/08 post election violence—although this is not the primary role of the court.
The set up of the ICD is mainly geared towards trying terrorism-related cases, human trafficking, money laundering piracy among other cross-border crimes.
“Since we have only a few cases taken up by the ICC, we hope this special court will be used to take up other cases arising from the post election violence,” Margaret Akinyi, a law student in Nairobi said.
Legal justice experts have previously expressed optimism that the formation of the special court will help compliment the work done by the International Criminal Court.
Kenya’s Attorney General Githu Muigai has previously stated that “The government is committed, to putting up all necessary structures in place to guarantee justice for all, the ICD is one of them.”
Others like Harvard University Law Professor Alex Whiting holds that the formation of the ICD will enhance Kenya’s cooperation with the ICC, “but for this to succeed, there must be political goodwill.”
Plans to set up the ICD has not gone without challenges after Chief Justice Willy Mutunga announced last year that the Judiciary was facing financial challenges due to the high costs involved.
“There will be great challenges to be surmounted in the establishment of the Division as the cost of setting it up and operationalising it at the expected international standards is enormous,” the CJ said, adding “Therefore the Government of Kenya will be expected to resource it adequately in addition to seeking financial and technical support from development partners.