14 December 2010

Kenya: Cabinet Split Over Ocampo

On 15 December 2010, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, held a press conference on the situation in ... ( Resource: Kenya situation - Press Conference, ICC Prosecutor - 15 December 2010 )

Nairobi — DESPERATE attempts to halt the ICC process continue before the likely announcement tomorrow of the names of six high-level suspects.

Cabinet yesterday was bitterly divided on whether to try and stop International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo from naming the post-election violence suspects.

The PNU ministers failed to convince their ODM colleagues that government should send Attorney General Amos Wako, Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko and Chief Justice Evan Gicheru to the Hague to convince the ICC that Kenya would initiate a bill to set up a special local tribunal to try the suspects.

The ODM ministers argued the Cabinet had not kept its past promises to deal decisively with the post-election violence.

Earlier this year the Cabinet had resolved the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission investigate the violence but the TJRC has failed to take off because of the controversy around the political past of its chairman Bethwel Kiplagat.

According to the PNU ministers, naming the six suspects could inflame parts of Kenya where the leaders mentioned come from.

However, ODM argues the police should be there to maintain law and order.

The suspects are believed to be three ministers, two top security officers and a senior civil servant.

Last evening, the Presidential Press Service issued a statement claiming the Cabinet had agreed to set up a local tribunal irrespective of whether the ICC moves to prosecute the six suspects.

The PPS assured the public that the rule of law will be maintained throughout the country.

"The Government is of the considered opinion that Kenya's national interests of peace and security, political stability, national reconciliation, and comprehensive justice for all victims of post-election violence cannot be achieved without a local judicial mechanism," said the PPS.

"Consequently, irrespective of what transpires at the ICC tomorrow and in view of the fact that ICC is only a court of last resort, the Government will establish a local judicial mechanism in accordance with the Rome Statute within the framework of the new Constitution," added the statement.

"The only reason that the post-election violence cases are being investigated by the International Criminal Court is because there is no appropriate local judicial mechanism which could carry out investigations, prosecutions, and determination of the post-election violence cases for international crimes," said PPS.

The local tribunal bill has been defeated twice in Parliament with MPs arguing that ICC was better placed to prosecute those responsible for the post-election violence.

The PPS statement could be aimed at undermining the ICC since international law does not allow prosecution of cases that are already in court in member states.

The Cabinet ministers opposed to the ICC appear to be working with 12 MPs allied to Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto who want to introduce a motion in Parliament to stop the ICC process.

Yesterday eight Central Kenya MPs met at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi to discuss the possibility of re-introducing the Imanyara Bill to create a local tribunal and of amending the International Crimes Act passed by Parliament in 2008 that ratified the Rome Statute.

They then moved on to the Boulevard Hotel where they were joined by Rift Valley MPs and together addressed a press conference.

The MPs said the list of six people including two ministers, an MP, a security chief, a top civil servant and a journalist was picked politically and questioned why Nyanza leaders did not feature on the list.

"Some ODM leaders called for mass action which led to violence but now they are not on the list," said Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni.

"While we thought that the ICC will give us the desired judicial process, it is now becoming more of a political process than a judicial one," said Kioni.

"We want to table a motion in Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss the conduct of the ICC and to try to exhaust other local mechanisms to handle the post-election violence," he said.

Ironically, the same MPs shot down the original bill to set up a local tribunal.

"We thought that The Hague was impossible to penetrate and manipulate like the Kenyan courts but now that the Judiciary is being revamped with an independent public prosecutor, our courts can independently handle the matter," Kioni explained.

The MPs reiterated their claims that ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo was playing 2012 politics.

"We are aware that Ocampo met an ODM minister in New York last month. He also met a section of ODM leaders at night secretly at Crowne Plaza Hotel when he was here earlier this month," Kioni said.

However the plans by the MPs are unlikely to succeed as Ocampo is expected to make an "important announcement" on Kenya at 5 pm tomorrow (Kenya time).

The first meeting at the Panafric was attended by Kioni, Kareke Mbiuki, Lewis Nguyai, Emilio Kathuri, Nderithu Mureithi, David Njuguna and Mwangi Kiunjuri.

At the Boulevard, they were joined by John Muthutho, Lee Kinyanjui, David Koech, Cyrus Ruteere and Sammy Mwaita.

The MPs claimed that the ICC had failed to conduct independent investigations and was relying on the reports of the Kenya Commission on Human Rights and the Waki Commission.

Mosop MP David Koech said Kenya is an independent country and can disengage from the ICC process.

"Kenya is a sovereign nation and as leaders of the country we must come to defend our sovereignty," Koech said.

At another meeting in Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi yesterday, spokesperson Stephen Karau said the Central Province elders were convinced that the Hague process was mired with political intrigues.

"We therefore appeal to the Kenyan Government and the ICC to suspend the process until we are assured of a fair and just process devoid of political machinations," their joint statement declared.

They claim that Ocampo intends to soil the suspects' names knowing that they will never recover their reputation even if they are acquitted.

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