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Travesty of political double-speak on the Justice for Post-Election Violence Victims

The era of impunity demised by ushering in a new era of Accountability

After the 2007/8 Post election violence, Kenyans demanded an end to impunity. The old era of impunity is over. In its place, slowly but surely, Kenyans are witnessing the birth of a new age of accountability causing political panic. There is no going back.

However this is not true for politicians, those with whom the Kenyans entrusted to run this country justly.

In this new age of accountability, those who commit the worst of human crimes will be held responsible. Whether they are rank-and-file foot soldiers, whether they are lowly civil servants following orders, or top political leaders, they will be held accountable.

International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) want to state categorically that people of Kenya can never again get trapped in a false peace in order to save political careers and shield impunity.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Honourable William Ruto, Eldoret MP, who have acquired reputation of  royal disciples of impunity, are desperately forcing the country into gunpoint immunity from accountability, without dignity, justice or hope for a better secure future.

We want to tell them and declare that the time has passed when we speak of peace versus justice, or think of them as somehow opposed to each other. We have no choice but to pursue them both, hand in hand.  No government or justice system that is complicit in international crimes can any longer shield the perpetrators from justice.

People of Kenya, outside political elite, are cheering justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC). To them, the court is where we all should be, firmly on the side of the victims.  This court has broken new ground on the rights of victims, including the right of compensation. Rightly, it holds that justice is not only retributive, but restorative as well.

If a culture of impunity is allowed to take root, violence is rewarded and the institutions and rule of law are undermined at the very moment they are at their most vulnerable.

There has been a failure by the key leaders from across the board to provide tangible leadership on this issue; to lead the country towards achieving justice for the victims. On the contrary, they have polluted the public space with hypocritical doublespeak.

The International Criminal Court task is rightly restricted to trying those bearing the greatest responsibility for the greatest of crimes against humanity. This policy means it can focus its deterrent effect where this will have the greatest impact, and allows it to provide at least some form of justice to the greatest possible number of victims.

The Waki Commission recommended formation of a local tribunal to meet certain standards to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of the Post-election violence and in the alternative then the ICC moves in. The debate among the political class from that time up to the present day has been nothing but deliberate disguises and distortion of the agenda.

The early attempts to form a local tribunal that could have seen the trials held in Kenya under a credible mechanism that met international standards were met by a clarion call of “don’t be vague, go to Hague” coming from politicians who effectively thwarted any efforts to establish such a tribunal.

The politicians claimed they had no faith in such a process while at the same time coming openly to ridicule the ICC process with some quoted as saying the Court was going to take “90 years” to investigate the PEV crimes. One cannot be left with any doubt then on what was going through their minds.

Come the year 2010 when reality came knocking that indeed the ICC is not some moribund body but an institution dedicated to ensuring justice for victims of the post election violence the tune then changed. The whole process was politicized and accusations have been leveled by senior government officials and politicians against the ICC as being partial and allies of those who have were named on the 15th December 2010 are now pushing  for an ethnic agenda by insisting that the ICC is targeting certain “ethnic communities”.

As if that is not enough, the tune has again changed and the year 2011 has seen a renewed call for a local process and this is led by flashing the card of “sovereignty”. Ironically, the same politicians who led the campaign to defeat the Bills that were meant to establish a local tribunal, and instead called for ICC, are now the proponents of a local process.

Right from the beginning politicians wanted to promote and protect impunity as usual. This is objectionable and untenable.

Those leading this campaign have not shown any efforts to commencing a credible local process but expended public money on shuttle diplomacy to lobby other African countries to support a “half-government” bid to seek a Security Council deferral in accordance with Article 16 of the Rome Statute. African Union made a grave mistake of endorsing such a resolution being promoted by a part of government supported by material devoid of accuracy and true facts of post-election violence events. This amounts to fueling new conflict in Kenya. United Nations Security Council should banish such an act.

All the double-speak is completely oblivious of the growing public confidence in the ICC process. The public and the civil society have consistently supported an end to impunity and they know that the sure way to achieve that is through the ICC.

Politicians are proving to be masters of doublespeak. We call upon the media to be steadfast in publicly naming and shaming any politician who speaks in haughty double-speak interspersed with personal interests in an attempt at urging citizens to a course whose intent is to promote impunity.

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