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Kenya Post-Election Violence Indictments Hailed as Important Step

  • Peter Clottey

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, left, talks with ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, right, during the opening of the Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in Kampala, Uganda, May 31, 2010 (file photo)

A member of Kenya’s National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has described as an important step to end “gross impunity” the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to name six key suspects in Kenya's 2008 post-election violence Wednesday.

Hassan Omar, among other commission members, are credited with playing a pivotal role by compiling evidence, as well as providing eye-witnesses, to help with the Hague-based court’s investigation into Kenya’s post-election violence.

“Kenyans have been waiting for this day for a long time. It’s been something that Kenyans have yearned for, (and) it’s been part of the pressure for the impunity to be fought and won,” said Omar.

“It’s not the end of impunity itself, but it’s a milestone. So, Kenyans are quite excited today to know what the outcome of the ICC investigation has been, and to, at least, have a fair idea in terms of who were the masterminds of the violence, and being, hopefully, the first step in dealing with impunity in this country, in its totality.”

Omar said Kenyans are excited, in his words, about the need to bring to justice the alleged masterminds and perpetrators of the violence that killed hundreds and caused widespread destruction.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the suspects are considered “most responsible” for the unrest that killed about 1,300 people.

Ocampo warned the suspects to surrender voluntarily and cooperate with the court. He said he has asked judges to impose restrictions on the suspects, such as not contacting or influencing victims or witnesses of crimes.

Meanwhile, a recent poll conducted by Synovate shows over 85 percent of Kenyans support the ICC prosecutions of suspects, who allegedly orchestrated the 2008-post election violence.

Synovate also said in a statement that “the results suggest that Kenyans overwhelmingly support the process, as they expect it will significantly reduce the possibilities of repeat violence in 2012.”

But, Omar said the poll reflects poorly on Kenya’s judiciary.

“That shows you how much faith Kenyans have in their own criminal justice system. It’s a big indictment to the country’s judicial process, (and) to the country’s political leadership. And, therefore, for us to have to wait for the ICC’s intervention itself tells us that our country has not been serious with fulfilling its obligations towards ensuring that those who perpetrate violations of human rights are taken to account.”