Neither Persons nor Property Will Be Safe by David M. Simbii

Fredrick Douglas (1817-1895) in support of the abolishing slavery in America said ‘where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where anyone is made to feel that the society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them. Neither persons nor property will be safe.’

Our politicians went round areas affected by the post-election violence only days after the formation of the grand coalition government. They were calling for the immediate release of those arrested during the post-election violence.

Those were the days before the entry of Luis Moreno Ocampo into the picture. Those were the days before Luis Moreno Ocampo had named his six suspects. The ICC would then narrow them down to only three suspects. Kenyans thought the ICC process was the solution to impunity in Kenya but it turned into a political affair.

A campaign modeled around the ICC issue ensured a comfortable win for the Jubilee coalition. A week later after the win, news trickled in of ICC witnesses recanting their evidence. The witnesses argued that they could not continue lying to Kenyans. These witnesses stated that their earlier testimonies and evidence was because of coaching by the ICC prosecutor’s team and local NGO’s in Kenya.

Anybody who loves his country would readily accept the new-found compulsion by these witnesses to speak the ‘truth’. However, their allegations of coaching raise serious questions about the ICC process. Whose responsibility is it to deliver justice to the victims of the 2007/2008 post-election violence?  Is it the office of the ICC prosecutor or the Kenyan government? Is it the ICC judges or the Kenyan citizens who witnessed the violence? Is it the media commentators and bloggers or should the country move on, forgive and forget?

I think that everybody has a collective responsibility to make sure that there is justice for the victims.  The process is and has always been politicized and marred in controversies. This brings into question the credibility of the entire process questionable.

The greatest culprit in this process is not the office of the ICC prosecutor. This office stands accused of doing shoddy investigations. The culprit is not the Kenyan government, which stands accused by the ICC prosecutor’s office of failing to coöperate with the ICC. The purported witnesses who are recanting their testimonies bear the greatest responsibility. They consciously mislead the prosecutor and in so doing subverted justice.

The ICC process is not a mutually exclusive event. It does not block the prosecution and trial of killers and arsonists, those allegedly told to burn, kill and torture. For the victims, I was speechless when I saw the images of internally displaced people from the Ruringu IDP camp dancing and celebrating ‘their win’ at the height of the jubilee celebrations. How can they celebrate when the circus of the ICC process and the talks of a local tribunal seem to be a conspiracy to deny them justice?

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