Kenyans support ICC

Friday November 12 2010

File |  NATION The International Criminal Court building at The Hague.

File | NATION The International Criminal Court building at The Hague.  

By JEFF OTIENO [email protected]

Despite the coalition government’s promise of a competent Judiciary under the new Constitution, two-thirds of Kenyans still prefer to have masterminds of post-election violence tried at The Hague.

According a Synovate poll, 68 percent of Kenyans are still wary about the proposal for a local tribunal to handle all post-election violence cases.

“The judicial system is among the institutions slated for reforms under the new constitution. But for many Kenyans, the Hague is still the most preferred option for trying post-election violence perpetrators,” states the poll.

A paltry two in every 10 Kenyans believe the new Constitution has brought real changes in the Judiciary, to the extent that senior perpetrators can be tried locally.

Kenyans, the survey adds, want to see justice done, as only 12 per cent prefer that the culprits be forgiven.

In September Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo was forced to swallow his words after MPs and the civil society condemned his campaign to stop the International Criminal Court from investigating and prosecuting post-election violence suspects.

Mr Kilonzo had argued that trial sought by ICC chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo will be unnecessary after Kenya establishes a reformed Judiciary, appoints an inspector-general of police, and installs a new director of public prosecution.

A section of MPs, civil society groups and professional organisations argued that the government was out to protect powerful individuals suspected to have participated in the violence.

According to the survey the preference for Hague has increased from 54 per cent in June to 68 per cent last month, “most likely due to the relentless pursuit of post-election violence key suspects by the ICC.”

Mr Kilonzo has twice presented a Bill to Cabinet for the establishment of a special tribunal to deal with the cases, but was not approved.

Another effort to form a local tribunal in Parliament, by former Justice minister Martha Karua and fellow MP Gitobu Imanyara, was similarly defeated, opening the way for the ICC to step in.

Preference for the Hague option is highest in the counties found in former provinces of Central (73 percent), Coast (73 per cent), Nyanza (72 per cent), Western (72 per cent), Eastern (71 per cent) and Nairobi (64 per cent). However the preference is a little bit lower in Rift Valley (61 per cent), and North Eastern (60 per cent).

“It is also worth noting that the amnesty option is most prevalent in counties found in Rift Valley and North Eastern,” the poll adds.

The survey financed by Synovate was conducted between October 24 and 30 and interviewed 2002 respondents in urban and rural areas. The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.5 at a 95 per cent confidence level.