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KENYA LESSONS FROM ICC TRIALS-INJUSTICE TO THE ACCUSED

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Icc 6 accusedONCE upon a time, the International Criminal Court in The Hague looked like a good idea for Africa. Why? The answer is, in many countries the local justice system had credibility issues in terms of corruption in the judiciary and fear of manipulation by the Executive arm of government.

However, the manner in which the Kenyan cases were conducted by the ICC prosecutors has confirmed the fears most pessimists had about the court from the very beginning.

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That the ICC prosecutor carried out shoddy investigations in the Kenyan cases was bad enough. The high profile cases started with 6 accused persons, who dropped to 3 and now has only 2 who might be discharged shortly after the expected collapse of their cases. It is a great pity that the ICC went to trial with cases that should have been terminated at the confirmation stage for lack of enough and uncontested evidence.

Although the cardinal principle of the rule of law is that a person remains innocent until proven otherwise, all the 6 Kenyans originally charged by the ICC have endured years of mental anguish. That in itself is a form of injustice to the accused. The ICC should not have insisted on perpetuating that anguish through trials that all along looked very much like a circus.

A lot of evidence tendered appeared far-fetched. Interpreters got lost between local dialects, Kiswahili and English. One of the most memorable sessions of the circus was when a witness testified that the colors of an election campaign paraphernalia like a hat carried coded messages inciting communal violence.

Without the knowledge of local languages and political nuances on the ground, it is hard even today for most Kenyans to understand why for many years the Turkana, the Pokot and the Samburu tribes have engaged in cattle rustling. It would be even harder for Hague-based judges to determine a case involving such complex circumstances. That said, how would a person from Japan decode a message like this where same words may have very different meanings in other languages?

Kaana ka Nikora

Koona kora koora

Nako kora

Koona kaana kora

 

The best tribute we can all pay to the victims of Kenya’s post elections violence is to make sure it shall never happen again. Kenya’s business people, doctors, economists, engineers, farmers, journalists, philanthropists, scientists and teachers should support the Rising Kenya narrative of making plenty be found within our borders.

 

Bring electricity, water, schools, hospitals, police, roads and other infrastructure to every village in Kenya. Initiate cottage industries that put money into the pockets of county residents. Build industrial parks with electric powered lifts for our mechanics. Add value to local produce. Githunguri Dairy in Kiambu County is a shining example of what well-managed co-operative societies can do in terms of transforming lives one family at a time through jobs creation, wealth building, health promotion and enhanced security in the community. Persons engaged in productive work have no time to be involved in crime or with criminals.

 

Kenya now has a constitution that has revolutionized governance through devolution. The constitution provides the framework for far reaching changes in Kenya. Kenyans should grab the moment by embracing the rule of law and be free to live and work in any county irrespective of their ethnic, clan, religious or political differences.

 

Kenyans are lucky to live in a corner of the globe where this is already happening especially in big cities, in schools and universities where people live, work and study side by side. This type of tolerance could be extended to every corner of Kenya and Africa. This may sound easier said than done and will take years to achieve. There will be teething problems along the way, but like President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself”.

 

By Leonard Njoroge, Diaspora Messenger Contributor

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