Sunday, July 10, 2011

Somebody must pay for state involvement in ICC

Sunday Nation 10 July 2011

Last week the government filed yet another application at the International Criminal Court (ICC), arguing that they are actively investigating the post-election violence suspects, with special reference to the so-called Ocampo Six.

This is only the latest in a series of farcical filings by our government since the beginning of the ICC investigation.

Right from the outset, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo made it clear that his cases targeted individuals in and outside government who were judged to bear the greatest responsibility in the chaos that followed the 2007 General Election.

At no point was the government, at least as currently constituted, held liable collectively for the atrocities.

It was, therefore, baffling for our government, which had sworn to co-operate in ensuring justice for the PEV survivors, to initiate a process of shuttle diplomacy aimed at scuttling the only effort at justice that had the greatest probability of success under the circumstances.

It was very clear from the beginning that the mood of the people was against any government interference with the ICC process, and legal opinion was unanimous that the efforts were doomed to fail.

The fact that the missions went ahead, and spectacularly failed even after coming before the United Nations Security Council, is an early sign that the impunity of the old regime is yet to wear off.

In curing this nascent disease, it is imperative that those involved in that decision face the full force of the law, and additionally be made to refund the monies spent in the ill-fated attempts at scuttling justice for our nation.

Failure to do this will entrench a culture of disregard for public opinion and welfare, which should be the goal of every responsible government.

It would have been bad enough had the government stopped at the failed shuttle diplomacy and allowed the rest of the process to go on to its logical conclusion.

Unfortunately, the government embarked on another strategy in its assault on justice. The outgoing Attorney-General went ahead and hired foreign lawyers to represent the Government of Kenya at the ICC, even though the government is clearly not a party to the cases before the ICC.

International community

Despite the numerous failures of the AG’s hired counsel at The Hague, our government continues to file badly drafted and poorly constructed non-defences at the ICC, all only serving to put all Kenyans to shame in the eyes of the international community.

It is once again my considered opinion that those who continue to waste public resources in this manner must be brought to book, and made to repay the “lost” amounts from their own sources.

Not once has anyone heard the gentlemen facing ICC trials ask for government assistance or defence in their individual cases. All six have hired top-notch lawyers to defend them and, so far, they seem to be satisfied with their services.

At whose instance is the Government of Kenya acting? Whose interests are the Queen’s Counsel hired by the AG serving?

Have the monies being spent on the government’s Hague efforts (and the shuttle diplomacy) been scrutinised and passed by the people’s representatives in Parliament?

Kenyans must ask these hard questions of this Grand Coalition, or risk wasting resources chasing after the wind.

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

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