Monday, February 2

Kenya and the ICC

While everyone's watching to see whether the International Criminal Court will go after Sudan's president, the steady murmuring about asking the ICC to investigate the violence that followed Kenya's elections in December 2007 got a little bit louder this past week. A commission was set up last year to investigate the politically- and ethnically-motivated clashes that killed over 1,000 people, and in October the commission recommended setting up a tribunal to try the main suspects. If parliament didn't establish the body by the end of January, the suspects' names could be forwarded to the ICC.

Well, it's February and nothing has been passed. The government did introduce a bill on Friday, but it was blocked by a group of lawmakers. Not by ones who don't want to see an investigation, though they exist too, but by the ones who think the tribunal, as it stands now wouldn't do enough to ensure an investigation free of coercion. The man responsible for the roadblock, Gitobu Imanyara, is a human rights lawyer-turned-politician whose main previous claim to fame was getting slapped by President Mwai Kibaki's wife. For an idea of the complaints with the tribunal as currently proposed, you can check out this piece by civil society activists Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi.

For now the ICC still seems to be more of a threat than an immediate option. It would be a lengthy process and the ICC's prosecutor may not even decide to take it up - though he did mention that his team is following the situation. Wainaina says he hopes Kofi Annan, who mediated last year's power-sharing agreement, will press Kenya's government to introduce an improved piece of legislation.

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