Deputy President William Ruto Takes to The ICC Dock.; Will justice be delivered to Kenyans?

Posted: September 6, 2013 in Politics/Current issues

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On 10th September, Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto will begin his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. The Deputy is being accused of being criminally responsible for crimes against humanity as an in-direct co-perpetrator during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya. Ruto together with the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Radio Journalist Joshua Sang are being accused of murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution.

The 2007-2008 post election violence followed the presidential election that was held on 27th December 2007.  The then Electoral Commission of Kenya, the body mandated to oversee the election then declared the incumbent president Mwai Kiabaki the newly elected president. This did not go well with the supporters of the opposition candidate Raila Odinga.  They accused the government of electoral fraud and this was followed by a series of protests and demonstrations followed by fightings which was mainly along tribal lines.  1,300 died and 650,000 others displaced during the violence that rocked the entire Kenyan nation

Attempts to conduct a criminal investigation of the key perpetrators in Kenya failed; the matter was then referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In 2010, the then Prosecutor of the ICC Luis Moreno Ocampo announced that he was seeking summonses for six people: Uhuru Kenyatta who is now the presdient, Henry Kosgey, William Ruto who is now the Deputy Presdeint, Francis Muthaura, radio journalist Joshua Arap Sang and former police commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali. All of them were accused were accused of of crimes against humanity. The six suspects were indicted by the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II on 8 March 2011 and summoned to appear before the court.

On 23 January 2012, the Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed the charges against Kenyatta, Muthaura, Ruto, and Sang and declined to confirm the charges against Ali and Kosgey.

Next week on 10th, Deputy President William Ruto will be taking to the dock at the Hague based court. Together with his co-accused Joshua Sang, they two who are accused of murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution will be appearing before Trial Chamber V(a) composed of Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji (presiding), Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Judge Robert Fremr.

Throughout since the he was accused, the Deputy President has insisted on his innocence and at one time termed the process as politically motivated. The Kenyan government at one time carried out extensive lobbying activities the with African Union states both before and during the African Union summit. This resulted to the African Union (AU) calling for the ICC to drop charges against both the President and his Deputy with members of the AU threatening to pull of Rome Statue if the cases are not dropped. During the same period, the Kenyan government unsuccessfully asked the U.N. Security Council to end International Criminal Court proceedings against the President and Deputy.  The government also spent large amounts of time and state resources on shuttle diplomacy continentally and globally which were being conducted by the then Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to get the cases dropped.

This made the ICC question the Kenyan government’s commitment to working with the ICC.  Yesterday On Thursday, Kenya’s parliament voted to back a call for the government to pull out of the International Criminal Court. The motion “to suspend any links, cooperation and assistance” to the court was overwhelming approved by the National Assembly.

‘’I am setting the stage to redeem the image of the Republic of Kenya’’ the mover of the motion Aden Duale said in parliament.

Witnesses withdrawal

Ruto’s case has also seen Witnesses withdrawal with the recent one being two key witnesses, through sworn affidavits recanted their testimonies and written statements informing the ICC prosecutor that they will not take part in the impending hearing.

Speaking at a forum in Nairobi on the ICC on Wednesday, ICC Head of Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Office of the Prosecutor Phakiso Mochochoko said that the court had never had such a high number of witnesses dropping out.

He said that it was important to find out the reasons behind the witness withdrawal from the cases claiming that there had been an extraordinary rate of witness intimidation.

“In Kenya we have seen unprecedented levels of threats to witnesses. We have also seen unprecedented reports of witnesses allegedly withdrawing but the question that you must be asking yourselves is why,” said Mochochoko

“Why is it so peculiar in Kenya? Why is this happening in Kenya? That is what you should be asking yourselves.”

Kenyans on the other hand are so divided on these cases. Others totally support it terming it as the only way to ensure that justice is achieved for the victims of the aftermath of the 2007-2008 violence. Other Kenyans though feel these cases do not amount to being heard at the ICC.   

Cyrus Ngari a Nairobi resident said he does not believe the ICC will deliver justice to Kenyans who were affected by the violence ‘’ I don’t think so, they should have started by resettling the Internally displaced persons first’’ he says

Hezron Busolo, a Nairobi resident who hails from the Kibera slums believes ICC could just be the best solution. ‘’Kibera slums was greatly affected by the violence, so many lives were lost, houses burnt down.All these happened under the watch of the police’’ he says ‘’Our judicial system failed us, we could not trust it and that is why i believe ICC could just be the best solution to ensure justice for the victims’’ he adds

Despite all these divisions, Kenyans still remain optimistic that justice will eventually be served for the victims of the violence. Some of who are still languishing in Internally Displaced Camps in different parts of the country.

By Nixon Kanali

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