Monday, October 4, 2010

Renditions: It’s time for due process

Sunday Nation 03 October 2010

It is very possible that the coterie of young men who have been recently arrested and sent to Kampala on terrorism charges are part of a conspiracy to spread terror in Kenya and the wider East African region.

It is, indeed, not beyond the realm of possibility that they were intimately involved in planning and execution of the suicide attacks on football fans in Kampala on the night of the World Cup final match in July.

Both the Kenyan and the Ugandan governments have assured all and sundry that there is reasonable suspicion that this is the case, and that the young men will receive fair trials in Kampala that meet the highest standards of justice.

However, we must remember that in the same vein, it is quite likely that the governments are either not telling the truth or honestly mistaken, and that the young men may be completely innocent of the crimes they are charged with.

It is also possible that they are being used as scapegoats, as visible demonstrations that justice comes swiftly to suspected terrorists in our region.

Because of this uncertainty on the true facts of the matter, we all acknowledge that some sort of arbitration is necessary to reveal who the real culprits were.

The government must have an opportunity to present its allegations, and the suspects must be given an opportunity to present a defence in open court.
In civilised societies, it is recognised that nobody holds a monopoly on truth.

For this reason, every suspected criminal is subjected to a judicial process that presumes them innocent until proved guilty under the law.
The said law is only administered with the consent of the governed, either directly or through their elected representatives.

Anything short of this so-called due process is considered an affront to the laws of the land and to the rules of natural justice. It is in this context that all Kenyans of goodwill must judge the recent renditions of their citizens to face “justice” in a far-away land without application of due process.

It must be appreciated that in all organised societies, laws are made not for the upright citizens of the land, but for those that would destroy social order if allowed to do so.

Laws are made for the lowest individuals in our societies – the misfits and miscreants who prey on fellow citizens and cause them untold harm and suffering.

We cannot, therefore, ignore these same laws and send our citizens across our borders to face an alien justice system just because their alleged crimes are particularly reprehensible.

The government is evidently relinquishing the much-vaunted “sovereignty” in this matter, a concept that is only polished and displayed whenever our darker natures are pointed out by our erstwhile “development partners”.

The true sovereign under our recently promulgated Constitution is the citizen, and not the government.

In order to begin checking the excesses of the state, the sovereign must now begin to exert his authority and bring our political leadership to account.

It is time we started questioning these renditions for, if we do not, some day in the future we shall repeat the immortal words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, to paraphrase, “First they came for the Muslims . . .”

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