Sunday, February 20, 2011

The government is taking Kenyans for a ride

Sunday Nation 20 February 2011

Lately, the Kenya Government has been taking us all for a ride. Despite having some of the best legal minds in its service, the government has engaged in a diplomatic blitz aimed at convincing or compelling the United Nations Security Council to seek a deferral of the cases pending at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

A few weeks ago, the Vice-President spent millions of funds gallivanting all over the continent ahead of the African Union Summit in Ethiopia, eventually succeeding in having the Summit endorse a declaration seeking just such a deferral.

The VP did this knowing full well that there was no unanimity in government itself about such a move, even if the majority in the Cabinet could be considered to be in favour of it.

World capitals

Subsequent to its pyrrhic victory at the AU summit, the government has embarked on an ill-fated tour of world capitals, even recalling our envoys from key UN members for a briefing whose aim is to lobby the Security Council to approve a deferral.

Few would have a quarrel with this crazy expenditure of public funds if the ends were publicly supported or even remotely attainable. The problem is that they are not.

ICC process

Firstly, the ICC process has not even officially begun. What the ICC prosecutor has done is to ask the Pre-Trial Chamber to issue summonses to certain individuals he believes were the chief architects of the post-election violence that rocked our country after the 2007 General Election.

The Chamber has not made a ruling yet, so we do not even know if there will be cases against the named individuals or not.

What if the Chamber rules that the Ocampo Six have no case to answer? Our money will have been spent in vain, literally flushed down the drain.

Secondly, in order for the deferral to be approved at the UN Security Council, all the permanent members will have to support it. A single veto is necessary to scuttle the entire effort

As if trying to save us much time, money and heartache, at least one permanent member has vowed to veto any attempts to procure a deferral through the UN system.

Where is the logic in spending large sums of money chasing after a mirage?

Hungry Kenyans

Isn’t the government playing us for fools by pretending to pursue a goal that everyone knows will fail?

Wouldn’t the money be better spent feeding the millions of hungry Kenyans who depend on UN agencies and NGOs to get at least one meal a day? Who is this whole charade meant to benefit, anyway?

In my opinion, the government is pursuing a misguided policy in an attempt to hoodwink a few Kenyans that it has the best interests of their leaders at heart.

If the government was truly interested in ensuring that justice is done for the survivors of post-election violence, it would not only support the ICC process but also set in place mechanisms for a local tribunal to fry the so-called small fish.

But of course as long as some potential suspects continue holding high positions in this government, we should just get used to its disjointed, incoherent policy as far as justice for the PEV survivors is concerned.

Dr Lukoye Atwoli is a consultant psychiatrist and lecturer at Moi University’s school of medicine

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