It’s puzzling the way Parliament sought to give the ICC the boot

Saturday September 7 2013

From left: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Jubilee running mate William Ruto and Jubilee Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta. Photos/AFP and FILE

From left: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Jubilee running mate William Ruto and Jubilee Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta. Photos/AFP and FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

By GITAU WARIGI
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Everybody is wondering why the Jubilee Government felt it had to suddenly give the ICC the boot. More puzzling is the urgency and the emotional manner in which it was done.

Parliament was recalled from recess for a special sitting.

The Speaker was summoned from a South African junket to preside over the extraordinary House session.

What was the imperative? And why the timing, just ahead of the President’s and his Deputy’s appearance before the ICC?

Wasn’t there the glaring risk of alienating the judges with this show of defiance? I suppose the Jubilee coalition has some sensible minds who had considered all that. So, one wonders, what calculation was behind all this? Was it just mindless zeal?

One of the less insane explanations I heard for the Kenyan action is that it is meant to trigger similar withdrawals from the Rome Statute by members of the African bloc.

For starters, I don’t see many African countries wanting to stampede out of the Rome Statute just yet. African governments emit a lot of hot air at their AU summits without much follow up.

Each has its own troublesome goons they would love to get their hands on and prosecute (Uganda has Joseph Kony).

Often when they can’t, they wouldn’t mind an international court process like The Hague taking over. Better still, ICC involvement cancels out the risk of the noisy human rights crowd shouting that African “despots” are holding “show trials” of their opponents.

That would have been the inevitable claim had Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire not cannily chosen to offload his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo to the ICC.

The issue, really, is not whether the US or Fiji or whoever does not belong to the ICC whereas we do. When crimes against humanity are committed inside those countries, rest assured the perpetrators are ruthlessly prosecuted. That is not so in our case.

Crimes against humanity were committed in 2007/2008 here in Kenya. And they remain unpunished. That, in a nutshell, is the point.

I would be a stout defender of Aden Duale’s sovereignty logic if we were seeing a stream of post-election violence (PEV) perpetrators being taken through our own courts and getting their due. I have never understood why the previous administration felt it needed a Special Tribunal to prosecute people who are basically murderers, rapists and looters.

Make no mistake, the cry of PEV victims for justice is real and persistent. If the only way they can feel a sense of justice is through The Hague, so be it.

Those who imagine the PEV victims don’t support the ICC process have lost touch with reality. Let them wait and see when the actual trials begin. Don’t get derailed by the meaningless chatter about reconciliation. I have travelled several times to what we used to call the Rift Valley (where the worst violence was perpetrated) and seen nothing of this reconciliation.

All there is are fake and interminable “peace meetings” by church groups and donor-funded civil society busybodies. But believe you me, the underlying hatreds remain raw and intact precisely because the PEV perpetrators are still unrepentant.

Those whose properties were destroyed have their own way of communicating what they feel. I have seen many business premises that were burnt down and vandalised and whose owners have deliberately refused to rebuild them.

I am told they are meant to serve as permanent memorials of shame for the violence mongers.

Since the election, the Jubilee coalition has been spinning a positive but false narrative of how the antagonistic communities in the Rift Valley have patched things up.

These are fairy tales. Once the graphic witness testimony starts spilling out from The Hague on the manner atrocities were committed, the Jubilee coalition itself will come under severe strain.
I won’t be surprised if it snaps under the trauma.

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