17 July 2013

Kenya: Victims Welcome Ruto Hague Order

Photo: Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta signing presidential oath in front of supporters and government dignitaries.

Nairobi — Civil Society groups and victims of the 2008 post election violence on Thursday welcomed the decision by the International Criminal Court plenary which ruled that the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang will be held at The Hague.

Speaking at celebrations to mark the International Criminal Justice Day, National Association of Human Rights Activists President Ken Wafula said victims were worried that there would be interference with the proceedings if they were held in Arusha or Kenya.

"We cannot have these cases referred to Kenya even on pretext that the judiciary has reformed. Even in future we don't want them to be held in Kenya or East Africa because of the attitude of the Africa Union," Wafula explained. "Closer home there is no political good will from the current administration. They are really deeply opposed to this case."

Kenya Human Rights Commission Legal Affairs Programme Officer Esther Waweru also said the ICC judges considered the plight and security of most of the victims when they made the decisions.

She said setting up the court in another location other than The Hague meant relocating the entire of the court apparatus which according to her would be tedious and expensive.

Waweru further felt that the court would be have a challenge protecting victims and witnesses which has been one of the major concerns raised by the Office of The Prosecutor on several occasions.

"Whichever the area they have to sit, you have to look at the security of victims, witnesses, court officials, the defence teams themselves and also look at the financial implications of that," she asserted.

The ICC plenary on Monday rejected a request by Ruto and Sang to have the seat of the court transferred to Kenya or Arusha to hear their case.

Victims Legal Representative in the case against Kenyatta Fergal Gaynor said majority of the victims he represents also want Kenyatta's trial heard at the seat of The Hague.

He said he had made a submission to the court asking it to consider the wishes of the victims in regards to Kenyatta's application seeking to be tried at the seat of Kenya or Arusha.

"We have made our observation in filings to the court. We have informed the court and of the victims we have consulted directly overwhelming majority want the trials to take place in The Hague not in Nairobi or Arusha," he said.

The court is due to make a ruling if Kenyatta's case will be heard at the seat of The Hague or Arusha or Kenya.

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