Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kenyans Support Prosecution of ‘Masterminds’ of Post-Election Violence, Says Rights Official

Three Kenyan suspects (back row, from L to R), William Ruto (L), Henry Kosgey (C) and Joshua Arap Sang (R), accused of crimes against humanity in their country's post-election violence in 2007-08, make their initial appearance at the International Crimina

Hassan Omar of Kenya’s National Commission on Human Rights says there is overwhelming support for the trial by the International Criminal Court of the alleged perpetrators of post-election violence four years ago.

In March, the ICC issued summonses to six senior politicians and government officials implicated in the fighting.

Violence between supporters of the two opposing presidential candidates left more than 1,300 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

At its Friday summit in Equatorial Guinea, the African Union renewed its call for the UN Security Council to defer the investigation for 12 months until Kenya can reform its judicial system to handle the case.

The AU’s call follows other unsuccessful efforts by Kenya to have the council suspend the probe. The UN body has the power to delay the trials for one year, though it cannot stop the ICC proceedings.

Omar said the African Union erred in its call, and said Kenyans are “tired” of attempts by senior officials of the unity government to thwart the trial.

“It’s a very desperate attempt by insiders of the [Mwai] Kibaki government to look for every avenue to defer The Hague trial and then to refer them back into Kenya, so that they can then manipulate the case internally,” said Omar.

“One realizes that Africa like other parts of the world is probably the safe-haven of impunity,” said Omar. “The Kenyan people do really want these trials to go on. [They] are committed in their majority to ensure the perpetrators of post-election violence are held to account.”

Some analysts say the ICC’s continued probe could create tensions and a potentially violent environment during next year’s elections.

But, Omar said the trial in The Hague will proceed, despite the AU’s opposition.

“Kenyans have matured in the political sense,” said Omar, “[and] they will not agree to slit each other’s throats merely on account of six Kenyans going to [trial] in The Hague.”

The suspects include Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey and suspended Education Minister William Ruto.

The others are secretary to the cabinet, Francis Kirimi Muthaura, former police Chief Mohammed Hussein Ali and radio executive Joshua Arap Sang.

The ICC is considered to be a court of last resort which acts only when nation states are unwilling or unable to try those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.