Sunday July 8, 2012/..In the next few days or hours the Trial Chambers of the International Criminal Court will deliver the ruling on the day for beginning of trials against four accused individuals namely; Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura, Joshua Sang and William Ruto for crimes against humanity.
Security of witnesses is the cornerstone for justice. Their testimonies are indispensable not only to the International Criminal Court but also to the national courts. By accepting to volunteer and provide information and evidence, they play essential role in contributing to justice, form core basis for courts’ judgments and reveal truth about the crimes committed. In this regard, the witnesses and their immediate families who stand up for the truth are owed reliable and durable support and protection.
International Center for Policy and Conflict remain concerned about security and safety of potential witnesses, victims and intermediaries. Witnesses are key players in fair justice system. Without obtaining cooperation and availability of victims and witnesses in order to provide crucial information and evidence will adversely affect credibility of prosecutions and hence undermine justice delivery.
It has come to our attention that in the last couple of months, there have been increasing incidents of a section of the Accused 4 using social media and other subtle meansto issue intimidating and threatening messages against perceived witnesses and/or collaborators of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Some of the accused individuals are using the information and communication technology to aggravate threats and coordinate their illicit operations. Such threats are being deliberately ‘coded’ and presented as historical and cultural sins that sections of Kenyan communities committed and that need cleansing. They are being issued through forums presented as political discussion groups drawing memberships from persons coming from hotspots of the 2007/08 PEV. Communities in the Rift Valley and Central have been particularly targeted.
We wish to indicate that the International Center for Policy and Conflict is systematically and continuously monitoring these incidents and reports. It is evidently clear some of the accused persons and their supporters may be expressly violating terms issued by the ICC by openly threatening victims of PEV and perceived ICC witnesses.
In particular, in the last few days we are aware one of the accused person and supporters through a forum called BIKAP NANDI COUNTY (people of Nandi) has consistently issued threats and profiled persons they perceive to be ‘betrayers’ of the community for allegedly ‘cooperating’ with the ICC. These threats and profiling are tantamount to abuse of due process of law. They are expressly in violation the terms issued by the ICC to the accused persons.
In confirming the charges against the four suspects, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II extended the conditions imposed on the suspects, which included that they desist from hate speech and contact with potential witnesses and victims of PEV. By openly naming individuals and issuing threatening messages, the accused persons and their supporters are therefore in violation of these conditions.
We accordingly call upon the Director of Public Prosecutions and International Criminal Court to launch immediate investigations on these groups in the social media with a view to bringing criminal prosecutions against those who are improperly using ICC prosecution to threaten victims and those they consider witnesses in the name of ‘cleansing’ their respective “ communities” of “traitors” and “thorns” . We recall that it was overlooking of these ‘minor’ incidents that exacerbated the 2007/08 violence.
We also urge the Office of Attorney General to intensify the witness protection programme so as to cover this group. Meanwhile, as an institution, ICPC reiterates its commitment to the course of justice for Post-election violence victims. We are urging the government to take appropriate steps and fast-track the prosecution of the middle and lower suspects who are still looming large and remain destabilizing elements. The government has to give true meaning to complementarity principle of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court without further delay.
We appreciate that a lot of ground is yet to be travelled to transform the criminal justice system in order to gain full trust and confidence among Kenyans to handle such sensitive cases but the successful prosecution of two cases related to post-election violence in recent past is sufficient prove that with will prosecution of the lower and middle is possible.