The withdrawal of charges of crimes against humanity against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week should not deny justice to the victims of the 2007-2008 post-election violence. The unrest left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced 660,000.
Worse, most of the perpetrators are unpunished as cited by Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty, recently. This is a huge disappointment and setback for the victims. Victims are disillusioned as portrayed in a report, ‘Crying for justice: Victims’ perspectives on justice for the post-election violence in Kenya’. They feel excluded from justice and frustrated because six years on, they await justice are displaced, not compensated, and their voices unheard.
Regretfully, Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions says there is insufficient evidence to prosecute more than 4,000 cases of the post-election violence. This is a let-down for the victims even when the case against Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and radio broadcaster Joshua Sang, continues. Kenya’s failure to prosecute the 4,000 cases had left ICC as the only hope for the victims.
The post-election violence was carried out openly, in full glare of cameras. Surely, the evidence must be out there but were not pulled together before charges were proffered. As the rights organisation, No Peace without Justice says the prosecution’s complaints of non-cooperation and lack of evidence points more to a failure of investigative strategy of the Office of the Prosecutor. As the Coalition for the ICC said today, ICC signatories should enforce more international justice.
Going forward, ICC should heed voices of Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and No Peace Without Justice, among others. The ICC should enforce proper, full investigations by experienced professionals. Moreover, ICC should build co-operation and establish mechanisms for compliance with its decisions. This will guarantee arrest strategies, protection of both victim and witness, and ensure non-essential contact with indicted senior government officials. Finally, ICC’s on-going Assembly of States Parties at UN in New York should engage highest level political support and cooperation with State parties. This will ensure victims of crimes receive justice, lest ICC’s first 12 years are wasted.
The last word, as James Gondi of Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, said is for Kenya to take responsibility and prosecute perpetrators of 2007-2008 post-election mass violence and repair harm done to victims. And ICC’s decision to drop charges against Mr Kenyatta should not absolve Kenya government’s responsibility to serve justice and compensation for its victims.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor