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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