alexa If liability for crimes against humanity is a Western value, what are African values? - Daily Nation

If liability for crimes against humanity is a Western value, what are African values?

Friday November 29 2013

A general view of the courtroom is pictured

A general view of the courtroom is pictured on April 7, 2011 at the International Crime Court (ICC) in the Hague during the hearing of Kenya's former interior minister William Ruto, former industry minister Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang, three Kenyans being charged in connection with post-electoral violence in 2007-2008. The first three of six Kenyan political leaders accused of crimes against humanity over post-election violence in which some 1,200 people died started thier trial today at the ICC. AFP PHOTO/ANP/POOL/LEX VAN LIESHOUT  

MAINA KIAI
By MAINA KIAI
More by this Author

The spinning going on in the desperate fight to fend off the International Criminal Court charges of crimes against humanity against President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and his deputy William Samoei Ruto has taken tragic proportions that I fear will scar this country for a long time no matter what happens with the cases.

The spinning suggests that anyone who supports accountability, and is tired of the impunity that has haunted Kenya supports “Western values.” This argument necessarily implies that impunity, dictatorship, corruption, killings, rape and displacement are African values that should be exalted.

I have no problem with political mercenaries trying to justify the handouts that are doled out to them by making a case for their political slave masters.

But I have a problem when they become so extreme that, as they insult those who use reason and rationale to deflect them, they insult themselves too as Africans!

And they insult the very African values — and Africans — that they pretend to hold high.

And I have a huge problem when the attacks go against the letter and spirit of the Constitution, demeaning the blood, sweat and tears shed for it for more than two decades.

Advertisement

I have a problem when the spinning turns into lies, as exemplified by Attorney General Githu Muigai who conveniently “forgot” to tell his audience at The Hague that our Constitution does not allow the impunity and immunity (Article 143 (4)) for the President that he seeks for Kenyatta.

These attacks are reminiscent of the Moi era attacks at the dawn of multipartyism in 1990/1, but way more visceral and crude for they suggest that Africans are not entitled to accountability, and that Africans want and need absolute dictatorship with all the corruption, killings and collapse that it brings.

And they suggest that Africans are so stupid that they can’t think for themselves and others (read Westerners) have to do it for them.

I suppose that may make sense for those whose actions are determined by their slave masters, but thank goodness they are not the majority!

What I find very strange is that quite a few of the people making these attacks were on the receiving end during the Moi years and defended themselves stoutly and concisely. And they gladly received, or provided, foreign funding.

So what is different now but the fact that Moi was Kalenjin and many of the attackers are Kikuyu? How can justice, rule of law, space for media and civil society, and accountability be good to pursue when Moi was president but not now?

And I worry that what we are witnessing carries a subterranean message that those in power and close to it have no intention of ever leaving it, no matter what.

For in democracies with fair elections, a change of power is always possible.

That realisation then serves to mitigate the worst of insults and abuses as well as expand democratic space, just in case your team falls in elections. So why are there so many efforts at closing down democratic space and dissent?

Let’s be clear. The ICC cases that have dominated practically every single decision of this regime are about justice. The ICC could be wrong, but there is no other court in the world that could give indictees such space and freedom.

So it should bother us all that they are so keen to avoid what looks like a fair process—never mind the strange and unhealthy exuberance of one of the judges - if they have nothing to hide.
And we should be concerned what impact these attempts to escape justice will have for Kenyans now and in the future.

For instance, it should not surprise us when an accused person soon asks our local courts for excusal; or to use video links; or to claim that they are too busy and important to attend trial since they have been elected the chair of a funeral committee.

Impunity is not African: never has been and never will be. Let’s call it for what it is: Dictatorship.

Advertisement