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Displaced Kenyans Hope ICC Hearings Bring Justice

  • Gabe Joselow

A mother with three children outside their tent in an internally displaced persons camp in the Kenyan town of Naivasha (File Photo)

A mother with three children outside their tent in an internally displaced persons camp in the Kenyan town of Naivasha (File Photo)

Kenyans displaced by violence following the disputed 2007 presidential elections say they are still waiting for justice. As three major political figures face charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, many internally-displaced Kenyans hope this will close a dark chapter in their country's history.

Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans were driven from their homes in post-election violence more than three years ago. About 12,500 people are still living at the Mwingu camp outside the Kenyan town of Nakuru.

Tabitha Nyamburu came here with her husband and 13 children. Life is much harder here than it was back home. They have little food and little money.

She, like many others, will be watching with great interest as the International Criminal Court brings charges against several politicians accused of inciting violence.

“The ICC will help because some of them contributed to the problem," she said. "I hope the ones that are accused will face justice.”

Two members of parliament, William Ruto and Henry Kosgey, as well as radio presenter Joshua arap Sang, are facing pre-trial hearings this week at The Hague. Three other prominent Kenyans are due to appear at the ICC later this month.

The Kenyan government has tried to fight the proceedings, offering to hold investigations at home. But the ICC, led by Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, has refused the appeals.

The chairman of the Mwingu IDP camp outside Nakuru, Peter Kariuki, is happy the proceedings are taking place outside of Kenya.

“Definitely. That is where justice can be seen," he said. "Here, in this our country, we mostly do not trust the politicians.”

The three defendants appearing at the ICC are accused of organizing gangs along tribal lines to launch attacks after their candidate, current Prime Minister Raila Odinga, was ruled to have lost the election to President Mwai Kibaki.

The violence played upon deep tribal tensions in Kenya. Many of the 1,300 people killed were of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

With new elections coming up next year, those affected by the violence say they will not fall victim to more political manipulation.

Salim Mbua is a representative of the People's Parliament, an organization of concerned citizens that meets informally across the country.

“Indeed, it is informative to remember that the violence happened immediately after elections," he said. "This was due to the whipping up of emotions by politicians, something they are ardent at doing all the time. And we are telling them, it is enough, the game is over."

Displaced people and sympathetic groups have been demonstrating across the country during the past few years, calling for permanent resettlement of those displaced.

They have vowed to continue fighting for justice, if new elections do not bring change.