18 February 2016

Kenya: The ICC Has Just Experienced a Spike in Popularity in Kenya

In this week's press round up, why Kenyans who normally have nothing positive to say about the ICC suddenly do and why this probably isn't going to last.

If - like me - you've grown accustomed to Kenyans trashing the ICC every chance they get, then it's been a bit of a surprising week. On the back of last Friday's Rule 68 decision, all the people who usually take such pleasure in trolling the ICC - online and offline - seemed suddenly to restrain themselves.

I give you as exhibit A: Dennis Itumbi, the director of digital communication at State House Nairobi, a man who hates the ICC so much he's taken to referring to Kenyan NGOs that support the court as "the evil society".

Finally the @IntlCrimCourt upholds justice by saying #Rule68 will not apply pic.twitter.com/MfNX5VAdix

-- Dennis Itumbi (@OleItumbi) February 12, 2016

I know, I know. Words like "the ICC upholds justice" in normal circumstances don't exactly sound like glowing praise. But remember this is a man who normally grants the ICC no quarter, to the point of drawing a direct line between the Court and terror attacks in Kenya. Look it up, it's true. Itumbi having anything positive to say about the ICC is as shocking as the captain of the Titanic waxing lyrical about icebergs or Donald Trump suddenly singing the praises of Sharia law.

So yes, faster than you could say "Rule 68", many supporters of Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang were suddenly seeing the ICC in a new light thanks to the Appeals Chamber's ruling. Not just as a place where justice goes to die but where evidence is weighed carefully before any decision is made. Kenyans online didn't miss the chance to mock the new "ICC converts" for their change in tune.

#ICC ruled to the favor of Ruto #Rule68 won't be applying. Suddenly,the court is good and not imperialist😂 Kenyans pic.twitter.com/nF7j7XtuFc

-- Kenya West© (@KinyanBoy) February 13, 2016

Suddenly the ICC is the paragon of Justice.

-- Brian. (@KipkemboiKoech) February 16, 2016

ICC is after all no longer an imperialist court! Right? #Rule68

-- Carole Nyambura (@mum_imani) February 13, 2016

The fact that the ICC's popularity in Kenya turns on a dime was the subject of a piece by the eternally perceptive Macharia Gaitho in The Daily Nation this week.

GAITHO: It looks like the vilified global courts are not too bad after all https://t.co/gTW6bo7QGj @MachariaGaitho pic.twitter.com/IpNbvunlLS

-- Daily Nation (@dailynation) February 17, 2016

In the piece, Gaitho notes how Kenyans and the suspects themselves have been shamelessly falling in and out of love with the ICC over the last seven years. It started with Ruto leading the "don't be vague, just say Hague" bandwagon only to change tune once the Court had him in its sights. Then came the 2013 elections, and Ruto and Uhuru leveraged the Court to get to State House.

They sweetened the deal by calling the ICC a "personal problem", as they campaigned, only to turn it into everybody's problem after they won. Now after almost three years of their administration relentlessly attacking the ICC, Gaitho says the Rule 68 decision has re-awakened the romance. According to him, the feeling within the ruling administration now seems to be "It looks like these international courts are not too bad after all".

Of course, the new ICC converts will lose faith in the Court quickly. Ruto's supporters know the score. They know he is not out of the woods yet. They also know that it won't look so good if their affair with the ICC lasts too long and the Court jails their man in the end. It just won't fly.

ICC is not an imperialist court now. Lets hear no one complain later if he gets jailed. https://t.co/0dWgajWszG

-- Miruru Waweru (@CpaWaweru) February 13, 2016

So have no doubt about it, normal ICC trolling service will resume shortly.

The bad news just keeps coming for PEV victims

It probably hasn't been a good week for you if you're a 2007/08 PEV victim, waiting for some semblance of justice from the ICC. Last week's Rule 68 decision must have been a blow, and this week The Standard reported that PEV victims feel as abandoned as ever.

Why did you forget us? IDPs ask government https://t.co/snfERiE9rR pic.twitter.com/6cFbQDGy0n

-- ktn (@KTNKenya) February 13, 2016

Just as they are still processing the Rule 68 news and the government's treatment of them, came this news, courtesy of the Capital FM website.

No reparations without conviction, ICC tells Kenya victims https://t.co/U9LyXLo3aj pic.twitter.com/fRxpuGN460

-- Capital FM Kenya (@CapitalFMKenya) February 18, 2016

Yes the ICC's Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) is refusing to pony up any compensation for the victims who participated in the Kenya Case II (yes, the one involving Kenyatta) because there were no convictions.

Let's hope sunnier skies lay ahead for the PEV victims. But it doesn't look promising.

Ruto and Sang's great, fantastic very good week

You know it's been a good week for Ruto and Sang when even the op-ed cartoonists shelve their snark and let the pair bathe in their victory.

Did the bellyaching at the AU summit spell doom for #Rule68 @TheStarKenya @HagueTrialsKEN pic.twitter.com/qjxi3h03as

-- VICTOR NDULA (@ndula_victor) February 15, 2016

MUNENE: Editorial Cartoon. https://t.co/2MrnU091bR #DNEditorial pic.twitter.com/5SgynERzls

-- Daily Nation (@dailynation) February 14, 2016

All the cartoonists, except The Star's Patrick Gathara that is. He feels Ruto's circumstances as an ICC suspect are getting more play than the plight of victims, especially those of sexual violence.

Editorial Cartoon by @gathara #TumeumiaSote #Rule68 #PEVvictims #WomensRights pic.twitter.com/priRM2oeNP

-- The Star, Kenya (@TheStarKenya) February 16, 2016

Fair point.

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