the pros and cons of having a local tribunal

Kenya’s Justice Minister, Mutula Kilonzo, has made it clear that the government does not want the architects of Kenya’s post-election killings to be tried in the Hague. He instead wants to create a local tribunal. Previous attempts to establish a local tribunal were defeated in the Kenyan parliament.

A local tribunal is both symbolic and practical. It is symbolic in the sense that it reaffirms Kenya’s sovereignty in the eyes of the international community. It would show that we are neither Somalia nor Chad (although we might be getting there if things go unchecked) and can take care of our own mess. It is also practical because Justice is political and sometimes the pursuit of justice may need to be subordinated to political expediency in order to achieve better results. It is no secret that some of  those who organised the killings early last year are the same ethnic princes (both in ODM and PNU) running the country right now. Dislodging these buffoons from power may end up creating even more instability in the country. Better have a local tribunal in which those behind the killings would be exposed and perhaps forced to pay some fine while preserving the current state of cautious stability.

But there is also a case for an international tribunal. 1500 (more or less) human beings, with families, were killed. They were denied the basic human right to life. Someone has to pay for this. Political expediency, it can be argued, should never guide the administration of justice. Only an international tribunal would guarantee an apolitical trial of the cold-blooded killers who planned and executed the slaughter of  hundreds of their fellow Kenyans in Nairobi, Nakuru, Naivasha, Kisumu, Mombasa and other urban centres.

Either way, I think it is time that Kofi Annan leaked out the names of those implicated in the organization and execution of the killings. Expose them now Mr. Annan.

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