All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 8 No 4

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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International Criminal Court Given the Green Light for Kenya investigations

Human rights activists within and outside Kenya have been celebrating ever since judges at the International Criminal Court, the ICC, gave the nod to Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to start formal proceedings in the investigative process of the court. And come Thursday of this week, an advance team from the ICC will be in the country to lay the groundwork for proper and fuller investigations to begin.

One of Kenya's top newspapers, the Daily Nation has reported that Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is planning to visit next month and is reported to have already informed the Kenyan authorities of his and the advance team's visit. The Daily Nation adds -

"Sources at The Hague said the team would lay the groundwork for investigations into the roles of specific people seen as the key planners and financiers of the violence, following the disputed 2007 elections.

The advance team has set up appointments with some of the government and private institutions that carried out investigations into the violence in which 1,133 people were killed.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo’s team intends to talk to the ministries of Internal Security and Provincial Administration, Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Attorney General’s office and the police force."

How Kenya got to this stage could be briefly put into context after the much disputed 2007 elections which the opposition claimed they had won from incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. Not so, insisted the President's party and before one can say "Jack Robinson", the then Chairman of the Kenya Electoral Commission was at State House to swear-in President Kibaki as winner. This man, Samuel Kivuiti was later to admit that he in fact did not know who had won the hotly-contested polls. He is reported to have told sections of the media in Kenya that

..... fighting would still have erupted no matter how he handled the 2007 elections

Antony Otieno Ong’ayo,  a researcher at the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam has noted the play of ethnicity and expectations in Kenya under the leadership of veteran politician (since the time of Jomo Kenyatta) and how these forces grouped to oust the corrupt and inept Kibaki and his cronies

Anger against Kibaki’s leadership is real and genuine and it stems from the fact that Kibaki was elected on a platform of reform, in the sphere of constitutional change, end to corruption, tribalism and establishment of an equitable system that could uplift the living conditions of all Kenyans regardless of their ethnicity and other background factors. Kibaki’s failure to grasp these genuine concerns, self imprisonment from reasoning and lack of desire to leave a legacy in Kenya, caused a great anger in the majority of Kenyans whose hopes had been dashed by Kibaki’s conduct, corruption and arrogance of people around him. For instance People’s disgust with Kibaki’s regime was expressed at the 2005 referendum in which the Wako Draft (a diluted version of the Boma’s draft, which was a constitutional product of a people led process) was defeated. Seven provinces made up of diverse ethnic groups voted for “NO” while the Yes vote was only represented by central province. This outcome reflected the wishes of the majority and cannot be seen as a vote against the Kikuyu since the vote was for a devolved system or a unitary system.

At the end of the day, to use a well-worn cliche, if those sealed 20 names and others are prosecuted by the ICC and sentences handed out, those who wielded the machetes, those who fired the guns including the armed forces and those who carried out the rapes, torture and acts of looting will still be around, free to carry out even more heinous acts, sure and secure in the knowledge that they will always be there, always be free and ready for hire.

Kenyans need to put in place courts that should investigate crimes carried out by those outside the category of "carrying the greatest responsibility". The foot soldiers, those who carried out those heinous acts must be made to account if impunity is to be addressed.

If the international community makes it a duty to bring the foot soldiers to justice, then Kenya, like Sierra Leone will enjoy true justice and an end to impunity.

In Sierra Leone such a move would see the likes of President Koroma's bodyguard "Leatherboot" firmly under lock and key and would never again be free to carry out such acts of violence as he visited upon the men and women holed up at the headquarters of the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party, the SLPP.



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