Mutula to Ocampo: Quit Kenyan probe
Posted Saturday, September 18 2010 at 22:00
- The justice minister argues that the new constitutional order will ensure strong structures to punish violence culprits
A Cabinet Minister has launched a controversial campaign to stop the International Criminal Court from investigating and prosecuting post-election violence suspects.
Lawyer Mutula Kilonzo, who holds the Justice portfolio, claims that trial sought by the ICC chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo after he completes investigations in the next few weeks will be unnecessary when Kenya establishes a new judiciary, appoints an inspector-general of police, and installs a new director of public prosecution under the new Constitution.
The minister, whose docket is crucial to obtaining justice for the victims of the violence that broke out after the 2007 General Election, argued: "When these (appointments) are in place, we can say that Kenyan judges meet the best international standards. After that, I can even tell them not to admit the ICC case. Why on earth should a Kenyan go to The Hague?”
But the Minister’s proposal, raised in an interview with the Sunday Nation, drew immediate opposition from the Law Society of Kenya and Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo.
Law Society chairman Kenneth Akide also disagreed with Mr Kilonzo, saying the new Constitution requires that Kenya respect agreements it had signed, including the Rome Statute that created the ICC.
“The ICC has not been replaced because of the new Constitution,” Mr Akide told the Sunday Nation by phone from China.
He said the judiciary and police were yet to be transformed to effectively deal with post-election violence suspects. He added that, contrary to Mr Kilonzo’s assertion, the judiciary “has always existed, but the country sought ICC intervention because of lack of political will to prosecute the suspects.”
In an exclusive interview, Mr Kilonzo said the administrators of the Hague-based court should know that Kenya now has a “new prosecutorial system and a new police under a new Constitution.
“I’m totally convinced. One million per cent convinced. The case before the ICC has not yet been admitted. It can only be admitted after (ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno) Ocampo finishes his investigation.
“I advocate a local tribunal partly because I’m a Kenyan, and I cannot entertain the idea of a foreign court having to investigate a fellow citizen on offences committed against fellow citizens,” Mr Kilonzo said.
“Under Articles 2, 4, and 5 of the new Constitution, we can now tell the world: If we appoint a new director of public prosecution, a new broom will sweep clean,” he said.
He said the Bill on vetting sitting judges and recruiting new ones, which would also look at “their temperament, their history and everything else”, was in place.
Mr Kilonzo, who has been at the forefront of pushing for the prosecution of post-election violence suspects, said the panel conducting the vetting of judges could have access to advice from intelligence services, the police, the office of the Attorney-General, and the Advocates Complaints Commission.
An ICC delegation is expected in the country next week. Mr Kilonzo’s comments come at a time when a more robust ICC process is at play as Mr Moreno-Ocampo appears keen to complete his investigations of key post-election violence suspects by the end of the year.
He is expected in the country in the next few weeks to bolster the ICC investigations. The ICC process was for some time overshadowed by the August 4 referendum, but it is now in high gear after the signing two weeks ago of an agreement to allow the court to set up an office in Kenya.
A section of the Cabinet is unenthusiastic about the ICC, while other ministers are pushing for charges against perpetrators of the violence that left 1,133 people dead.
The ICC’s actions could dramatically affect the country’s political scene as some of those mentioned in connection with the violence harbour plans to run in the 2012 General Election.
Mr Kilonzo said potential witnesses have been given protection in several places, but any trials could be carried out locally.