Nairobi — Perpetrators of the post election violence whose cases fall outside the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction will be tried locally, the government has said.
Briefing Chief Mediator Kofi Annan on the progress Kenya is making in implementing the new constitution, Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo said the government was revamping the judicial system to ensure it adequately deals with crimes committed during the post election violence.
The chaos that erupted after the disputed 2007 elections left 1,133 people dead and more than 600,000 displaced from their homes.
ICC has indicated that it is pursuing two cases involving four to six prominent Kenyans, who sponsored or masterminded the violence, and hopes to issue warrants for their arrest by the end of this month.
Mr Kilonzo told Mr Annan during a meeting in Geneva that the government had already published bills to vet current judges and magistrates in order to weed out those who are unsuitable to continue holding offices.
The government has also drafted a bill that creates an independent Judicial Service Commission to ensure justice is dispensed fairly and timely.
Mr Kilonzo was in Geneva leading the Kenyan delegation to the Human Rights Council meeting where he delivered a paper detailing steps the government is taking to uphold human rights.
In his speech at the meeting and in subsequent talks with the chief mediator, the Justice minister said a reformed Judiciary will restore confidence among Kenyans to pursue justice and even seek compensation for lives and property lost during the violence.
"I should also point out the Kenyans' resistance to a local tribunal in preference to the ICC is borne out of the mistrust that they have with the national justice mechanisms. They think a local tribunal would be subject to interference and manipulation.
"It is my conviction the ongoing reforms in the Justice system will greatly help in changing this perception and at the same time, safeguard the rights which would be the subject of regional and international redress mechanisms," Mr Kilonzo noted.
"A reformed Judiciary should address complaints of undue delays and corruption which occasion miscarriage of justice leading to greater faith in the domestic remedial processes."
"It should be noted that in any proceedings brought before a court for a violation or the enforcement of any right, the court has power to grant any relief including an order for compensation. This should provide redress to the victims of the post 2007 elections violence," the Justice minister went on..
He said that even though Parliament had rejected a bill to establish a local tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators of the violence, Kenya had already signed an agreement with ICC granting it immunity and privileges to operate locally.
"This gives permission to the ICC to set up a court in the country to try post election violence suspects, should it wish to do so. This is in accordance with the International Crimes Act, 2008 which domesticates the Rome Statute," he explained..
More than half of Kenyans want the masterminds of violence which followed disputed elections in 2007 tried at the ICC despite planned judicial reforms at home, an opinion poll conducted by Synovate recently showed.
"Fifty-four percent still prefer The Hague for prosecution of the perpetrators of the post-election violence," pollster Synovate said when releasing the results last week.
"This is more than twice of those who think that the perpetrators of Post Election Violence should be forgiven (22 percent) or tried locally (22 percent)."