Monday, 9 September 2013

We Could Surely Do With a Little Guided Thought on Matters ICC

Below is a superb guest blog on the effort by the Kenyan National Assembly to withdraw Kenya from the Rome Statute and the ICC by Celestine Olilo.
Celestine Olilo is a Kenyan journalist who studied Communication Studies at Maseno University, and is working with a local media house currently. She follows politics keenly, and I requested her to give me a post on the ICC issue that has gripped Kenyans so much with trials against 3 Kenyans due to start on Tuesday, 10th September 2013.
You can find Celestine on twitter here @cellie_beckie

By Olilo Cellestine        

My beloved country is making yet another attempt to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. 

From a neutral point, Mr. Adan Duale’s motion raised a rather germane issue that Kenyans would have had to deal with at some point. And the reason is simple. President Uhuru and his deputy, William Ruto’s election to office, despite the glaring charges of alleged post poll atrocities, brought about awkward complications that cannot be wished away easily.

Indeed, it is a country’s shame to have a sitting president being tried for heinous crimes at an international court. It is even worse, when the sitting president has such a huge following back home, that the Hague-based court is viewed as more of a bully, than a vehicle of facilitating justice to hundreds of thousands of the 2007/2008 post poll victims. 

The Jubilee Coalition launched a spirited campaign to break free from the ICC. The argument? We now have a new constitution, and the capacity to locally try the perpetrators.

Maybe so, but why now? Has it just occurred to the Jubilee Coalition that we could do with a little less patronizing from our Western big brothers? Is it really an innocent attempt to salvage the country’s pride at a time when the suspects’ cases are just kicking off? I say nay-nay.

Even if they were, Kenya’s deferral sends an unpleasant message across the continent (remember we sought support from the African Union earlier in the year?)That we are not willing to further cooperate with the Hague-based court, and worse still, that we are seeking ways of terminating the cases against our top countrymen.

In case we forgot, the ICC did not come hunting for the suspects, we invited them over, for the innocent reason that the 2007/2008 victims must find justice, justice which could not be found within the confines of our teething judiciary.

We happily signed The Rome Statute, set up a commission of inquiry that cost taxpayers an arm and a leg, and then waited in earnest to know the ‘contents’ of the Waki envelope. But when the names were revealed, we forgot all this before losing our minds to the staid ideology of ethnicity.  The ICC issue ceased to be a collective path to justice. It was now targeting our sons, our leaders…our tribesmen!  

The Rome Statute is clear in its 16th Article on deferral. Two things: Even with the motion already passed, there can be no impact on the ongoing cases, and Kenya’s withdrawal can only take effect about a year after the request has been received by the United Nations. What am I saying? The charges facing the two leaders as well as that of radio journalist Joshua Sang are a fait accompli

For this, Adan Duale and those harboring the same thoughts are making a futile attempt that does nothing but soil the name of our country in the eyes of the International Community, but even worse, it impacts negatively on the President and his deputy. 

Why the sudden butterflies? Why the seemingly desperate attempts to evade the charges, to a point of staging a deferral? Do they know something I don’t? Ambassador Francis Muthaura and Major General Hussein Ali were acquitted by the same court. Surely the two did not need an entourage of MPs to rally for the deferral of their cases.

The Jubilee coalitions should invest in a lot more intellectual knowledge than the mere politics informing the deferral. They should start by acknowledging the fact that the ongoing cases played a huge part in ensuring peace prevailed during the March 4 elections.

Forget that pep talk about the ICC targeting African countries.  If you put zero external supervision and a country where disputed elections are the order of the day, the imminent result is an ugly bloodbath! If you doubt me, follow proceedings in the DRC.

If really we are grown enough to throw our two hands scornfully at the ICC, then let’s have some tangible evidence to back it up. The clashes in Trans Mara, Tana River etc. depict the same incapacity to deal with our problems that forced us running for help from the ICC five years ago. 

That IDPs are still languishing in abject poverty five years on tells me that we could still do with a little help in dealing with our internal demons.

I am not rubbishing my countrymen’s plea to pull out, all I am saying is that if indeed we have the capacity to successfully try and prosecute the 2007/2008 perpetrators, don’t just give me the lip service, show me that we can.