Tuesday, September 3, 2013

KIAI: Season of madness as ICC trials begin

By MAINA KIAI
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We are just a few days from the D-Day of September 10 when William Ruto’s case at the ICC for crimes against humanity is expected to start.

And with this, a new season of madness beckons, where truth is cast aside, facts are deemed irrelevant, and an avalanche of lies and propaganda are unleashed.

This was expected, for few issues have been as emotive in recent years as the ICC; and few issues more twisted and manipulated.

Prior to the elections, the overwhelming spin against the ICC was that it was a foreign court, and was being used to deny some leaders an opportunity to rule Kenya.

This, no doubt, had great traction, no matter the fact that it was the Government and Parliament that essentially invited the ICC to intervene in Kenya, after failing to institute a Special Tribunal as agreed with the adoption of the Waki Commission Report. And no matter the fact that under our constitution, the ICC is as much a part of our judicial system as the Supreme Court.

And no matter the fact that Mr Ruto was in support of the ICC before his indictment.

INVITE THE ICC

The spin went on to claim that because all the cases before it are from Africa, then it must be anti-African, again no matter the fact that for Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo, Central African Republic and Cote d’Ivoire, it was the countries themselves that invited the ICC.

This spin is silly. Imagine that your village or estate had been engulfed in a crime spree with residents raped, killed and tortured. But this crime wave also hit other estates and villages across the country. Do we then say that we want no action in our estate or village until other criminals are brought to book?

Then it became the story of the indicted persons as victims, no matter that they can afford the best lawyers money can buy (or is it taxpayers paying for the lawyers and travel and etc?) with no regard for those killed, raped, displaced and tortured. And again, this got traction and suddenly anyone who supports the ICC and is against impunity was declared a traitor! One wonders how standing up for principle and for the weakest of the weak became akin to treason, especially when the Government itself brought in the ICC!

Indeed, one of the most significant dangers to our survival as a nation is the fact that those in power, those with wealth, can do anything and get away with it. They can steal, kill, rape, father kids without regard, be corrupt, and get away with it. But when it comes to the point of actually trying to do something about it, when tribal emotions are brought into play and when some of Britain’s best propagandists are let loose to spin, we seem to lose it.

INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY

We all agree that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and some of the loudest shouting about this comes from the fervent supporters of the indictees. Yet, these same supporters do not seem to believe that innocent until proven guilty should apply to anyone else! For they lie on the blogs, for instance, accusing all manner of people of criminal actions such as witness coaching, even though there has never been any investigation or official complaint about this, and despite the fact that the indictees control the state.  

Now the supporters of the indictees in parliament are reportedly planning to pass a motion to withdraw from the ICC.  This will have an impact on the cases, and while it may prove to be politically popular to some, it will make things harder for the indictees.

Even those countries that have been carefully recalibrating their foreign policy towards Kenya—on the basis of their strategic interests rather than morality--will have few options but to cut loose if non-cooperation becomes official.

But I don’t get it: If indeed the indictees are innocent, why have they been so busy trying to avoid the ICC altogether? They have tried using the African Union; they have gone to the UN Security Council; witnesses have been recanting; and they have delayed the start dates of the trial time and again.

We have clearly not seen the last of the propaganda and spin and we should brace ourselves for more, for a season of madness beckons.

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