This week’s opening of a new session of Kenya’s parliament comes on the heels of the Nairobi departure of International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. After completing several rounds of discussion in the Kenyan capital last week with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the ICC prosecutor says he hopes that two or three strong cases can be brought to trial before the court by next July.
Journalist Herman Igambi of Nairobi’s Citizen FM radio says that Kenyans are hoping legislators will overcome previous parliamentary obstacles to create local judicial mechanisms that will try a broader range of offenders suspected of criminal behavior during last year’s Kenyan post-election violence.
“Remember, this matter was in parliament before, and parliament shut it down. But, unfortunately, there has been a very big outcry from Kenyans, and I’m sure when parliament reconvenes, they’ll consider the matter a lot more seriously and create a local tribunal to try those who have committed smaller crimes, where there are many other people who are really involved. Trying the top guys is not really enough,” he said.
Reporter Igambi says an overwhelming majority of Kenyans believe everybody who was involved must pay for what he did, and parliament as the people’s representative should expand on prosecutor Ocampo’s lead to create local bodies that will administer justice at all levels of perpetrators of election crimes against Kenyans.
“This is the first time since independence that a case is taken that could go a long way toward eradicating impunity in the country, and putting the government to account. It has never happened, and from the reports that we get, a lot of people were killed, people are still suffering, and they feel very unhappy that the politicians are not doing enough to do something for them,” he said.
Kenyan newspapers late last month disclosed the identity of Attorney General Amos Wako as
the Kenyan official targeted with a U.S. travel ban in connection with last year’s post-election irregularities. Igambi suggests that just as Kenyans expect justice to be meted out for all degrees of crimes committed during the violence, singling out one high-level government figure will not be decisive in prompting the Nairobi government to fulfill its legal obligations.
“The general feeling is that really to name Wako in a selection is not doing any justice because there were many, many people who were involved in this matter. He is the attorney general, and he gave a very long statement the other day that he is not going to resign…he has done nothing wrong that would make him resign during this stage,” noted Igambi.
Nonetheless, the Kenyan journalist says that only with greater attention from the Obama administration and perseverance from outside policymakers will the Nairobi government respond to pressures and bring offenders to justice.
“A lot of Kenyans are happy that at least Obama, with the Kenyan roots, in a very high office, could go some distance to help them, because nothing really was happening. The things that have been done this time were so many, and without any positive action being taken. So it is hoped at least that Obama’s pressure and pressure from the American government, something positive will come out of this,” he said.
The chief prosecutor left Kenya on Saturday, vowing to submit his plans for a probe of suspected Kenyan officials. Although the list prepared by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has not yet been made public, either by the court or by officials in Nairobi, Mr. Moreno Ocampo says he plans to turn his request over to ICC judges by next month.