Kenya in the International Criminal Court
23 January 2012 — Today was a big
announcement in the International Criminal Court (ICC) about cases pending from
Kenya’s post-election violence in 2008. My project here is to document the
peace and reconciliation work of Friends in the midst of the post-election
violence, so this announcement is directly related to my work.
After the December 2007 election results were delayed and then the winner
of the Presidency was finally announced amid serious allegations of fraud,
violence broke out immediately all over the country. While it appeared ethnic
on the surface and political leaders were making public statements inciting
ethnic violence, the causes are more complicated and involve economic inequity,
unemployment, land disputes, and population increases. In the aftermath a
commission was appointed to investigate the causes of the violence. Their
report was thorough and comprehensive, but did not name high level people.
Instead, those names were placed in a sealed envelope that was delivered to the
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
The ICC gave the Kenyan government a year to establish their own tribunal
to investigate high level involvement in the violence, after which the ICC
would take over the task. The Kenya government refused and the ICC began their
process in 2010. Six suspects were investigated and on March 31, 2010, the
Prosecutor was given the go-ahead to develop Pre-Trial cases. They invited
victim statements from Kenyans and issued summons to the six suspects, who went
to The Hague for confirmation of charges hearings in September, 2011. Over
30,000 pages of evidence were presented to a Pre-Trial panel of three judges.
Today’s announcement was the decision of the Pre-Trial judges whether the
suspects should be charged and go to a full trial. Four of the six were charged
and will go to a full trial. According to the history of other such cases in
the ICC, the full trial may take several years. The four that were charged had
been openly disrespectful of the ICC process, dismissing it as irrelevant. The
two who were not charged had kept quiet after they knew they were being
investigated. I hope today’s results are good for decreasing violence all
around, because politicians were charged for inciting ethnic violence. At least
it should make leaders more careful about what they say in public and how
connected they are to anyone who is encouraging youths to retaliate in any
circumstance. There was a lot of concern expressed over whether this
announcement might be a spark that would set off more violence, but so far the
country remains calm.
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