This point, from the comment section below is well taken.
“I think you have drawn the wrong conclusion from the article that you posted. Yes, broadly international justice is expensive. However, the article is referring to the wastage at the an Ad-hoc Special court for Sierra Leone. Similar claims of waste have been leveled at the Rwanda tribunal in Arusha. It should be remembered that one of the reasons for the establishment of the ICC was to reduce the wastage that came as a result of such ad-hoc courts. So in a sense, the expense of the Sierra Leone court justifies the ICC more than anything.”
I am on record as being pro the ICC. But this got me thinking about the absurdity of having such procedurally expensive justice systems meant to serve people who’s own justice systems are left to crumble….
“The entire budget for Sierra Leone’s domestic justice sector is roughly $13 million per year, including the Sierra Leone Police, the Prisons Department, all levels of the court system, and the various human rights and legal services commissions. There are just 12 magistrates for the whole country outside of Freetown, and they hear between 4,000 to 5,000 criminal cases per year. The lack of judges, lawyers, and police investigators –even the lack of a few cents in cell phone credit to contact witnesses that might implicate or exonerate a defendant –is a serious obstacle to a functional justice system.
In contrast, a quick tally using the Special Court’s [that tried Charles Taylor] annual budget reports reveal costs of approximately $175 million for the prosecutions of 13 other defendants in Freetown, in addition to the hefty bill for Taylor’s trial in the Hague. And the Special Court boasted 11 judges and hundreds of staff members for its 14 cases spread over the past nine years. Add on the testimony of Naomi Campbell, and it appears international war crimes have become a red-carpet affair.”
The ICC has ruled that six prominent Kenyans have a case to answer for the murder of 1300 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands in the 2007-08 post-election violence in Kenya.
The spotlight is now on President Kibaki. About two of the president’s closest allies – Finance Minister Uhuru and head of civil service Muthaura – a local daily opines:
Retaining them in Government will send a signal to the ICC and the world that Kenya is not ready to co-operate and is a hostile State, putting it at par with Sudan, which has refused to hand over President Al-Bashir who is charged with crimes against humanity over Darfur.
More on the political reaction to this soon.
In related news, I am absolutely loving the wikileaks stuff on the drama that is Kenyan politics. Most politicians believe that Kalonzo is a janus-faced intellectual lightweight who pretends to love Jesus Christ. Raila is depicted as accessible but power-hungry and really bad at management. President Kibaki is sick, condones corruption and has been captured by vested interests in his inner circle. Ruto and Uhuru fret at the idea of taking all the blame for 2007-08. Uhuru Kenyatta is “lazy.”
This is valuable information, the effects of which will not be apparent any time soon. In the minds of Kenyans, a clearer image of these little men and women who parade as gods is slowly forming. It is only a matter of time before the myth of tribal loyalty is shattered and these tribal chiefs are seen for who they really are: a bunch of unprincipled and venal goons.
The just concluded Kirinyaga Central by-election was not an ordinary one. The actual contest between Messrs Gitari and Karaba was secondary to the meta-contest between Gichugu MP Martha Karua and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. Karua backed Karaba while Uhuru campaigned for Gitari.
Given the high salience of ethnicity in Kenyan politics, the latter contest will determine who emerges as the chief voice of the Central Kenya voting block ahead of the 2012 general elections. Mr. Kenyatta must be happy with the latest score in Ms. Karua’s backyward given his own drubbing a few months ago in his own backyard in the Juja by-election.
Reacting to the loss Ms Karua twitted: “We have lost the battle not the war. Congrats to our team no retreat no surrender. Narc kenya marches on!”
Mr. Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president and very much an establishment candidate, is hoping to succeed President Kibaki as the ethnic chief of Central Kenya when the latter retires in 2012. The ultimate insurgency candidate, Ms Karua is an outsider and relatively new money who is increasingly championing the cause of the central Kenya underclass who have been marginalized by the region’s old guard elite since independence.
This blog has previously confessed a soft spot for Ms Karua, a rare breed of a principled fighter among Kenyan politicians. Mr. Kenyatta has been accused by the ICC to be among the masterminds of the 2007-08 post-elections violence that killed 1300 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. He also has tons of money.
Embattled Kenyan politician William Ruto’s attempt to stop the ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo from issuing summons against him have hit a snag.
The three judge panel at the ICC rejected Mr. Ruto’s claim that Mr. Ocampo did not conduct proper investigations but instead relied on findings and reports by interested parties in Kenya, including the Waki Commission and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
Mr. Ruto has been adversely mentioned by Mr. Ocampo’s office – along with five others – as a key mastermind of the violence that rocked parts of Kenya following disputed elections in 2007. More than 1300 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced. Most of the displaced still live in makeshift tents in IDP camps.
Jean-Pierre Bemba is the ICC’s highest profile defendant yet (The other big names from the Continent’s conflicts have been tried under the UN special tribunals for Rwanda and Sierra Leone). The former Vice President of the DRC is on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including rape, murder and pillage, in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Typical of most African conflicts which are labeled “civil” but are in actual sense international wars, the DRC’s civil war extended beyond its borders. Bemba’s militia – The Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) – was used by its backers in the Central African Republic to put down a rebellion in the south of CAR.
The ICC has many failings. But its deterrent effect is beginning to take hold. Justice is political, no illusions about that. However, the court’s activities provide a guarantee that in some cases, once in a while, the voice of the voiceless men, women and children who bear the brunt of the Continent’s conflicts will be heard.
IRIN news reports that arrests in Europe of political leaders of rebel movements in the Congo may not have much impact on the goings on on the ground. Even the FDLR is not immune to the commonplace principal-agent problems we are all aware of. The disconnect between the political leaders in Europe and generals on the ground is limiting the deterrence effects of the arrests.
I am not a huge fan of the ICC. But I am not one to throw out the baby with the bath water. The institution has potential to be a voice for the voiceless. Because of the ICC Kenyan politicians in the future will think twice before ordering jobless youth to murder innocent civilians. Because of the ICC rebel leaders cannot fly in and out of Brussels to raise money with abandon. These are not trivial achievements.
Accusations against the court’s Africa-bias may have some merit. Even more important are charges that the court does not appreciate the political consequences of justice or that the very idea of justice is political (see the Bashir case in Sudan). Others even point out the fact that going after the big fish ignores local offenses that also require redress. These are serious concerns that the ICC should address. But that said, overall I think that the ICC does more good than harm.
The road to Rule of Law in Kenya is just beginning to take shape. For sure, politicians will continue to flout the constitution but things are no longer the same. Today, as required by law, President Kibaki suspended higher education minister Hon. William Ruto because of the latter’s pending criminal trial over a fraudulent land deal. Section 62 of the Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Act states: “a public office charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended at half pay, with effect from the date of the charge.”
Given the stature of Mr. Ruto as the ethnic chief de facto political leader of the vast Rift Valley Province, this is a big deal.
The next big test for how committed the ruling class in Kenya is committed to the Rule of Law will be when Ocampo and the ICC come calling with arrest warrants later in the year or early next year. Bigwigs in cabinet and close confidants of both the president and his prime minister are expected to be among those indicted.
President Omar al-Bashir just won’t shake the ICC off. The strongman of Khartoum already has an arrest warrant with his name on it for war crimes and crimes against humanity. To this the international criminal court has added three counts of genocide, the most serious charge in international law. It is interesting to see how friends of Khartoum, and African states in particular, will react to this new charge. The African Union chose to back Bashir the last time the ICC called for his arrest. Many African leaders have slighted the court for its disproportionate focus on African conflicts and human rights abuses.
Since 2003 Mr. Bashir has been waging a war against insurgents (led by the Chad-backed Justice and Equality Movement, JEM ) in the Darfur region in the west of the country. More than 200,000 people have been killed and millions displaced from their homes as a result.
Chief prosecutor of the ICC – Moreno-Ocampo – jets into Kenya on Thursday in his efforts to bring to justice those who planned and financed the murder of over 1300 Kenyans in last year’s post-election violence. It is not clear exactly what Ocampo will demand of the president and his premier. Both men have close associates in the cabinet implicated in the murder of Kenyans. It is highly doubtful that the ICC will get anything out of the current Kenyan government – I can’t imagine the Kenyan police arresting any of the powerful ethnic chiefs in the cabinet. Wanjiku may have to wait a little longer for justice to be served.
And in other news, Kenya’s demographic transition is here!! I have nothing against babies. But I was delighted to learn that Kenyan women are having less children – a drop of .3 children per woman – and that 9 out 10 consulted a health officer at some point during their pregnancy. The survey that generated these results is done every five years and included over 10,000 Kenyan households. Other positives include the fact that vaccination rates had gone up and that up to 90% of rural women received some form of ante-natal care while pregnant (urban figure was 96%).
This sort of demographic transition has positives in many ways. Women having less children means that they are freed to do more to increase the GDP bottom line. It also means that GDP growth will not be gobbled up by an increase in population size.And perhaps most importantly, it means that women are becoming more and more empowered – the fact that they are able to control their fertility is an indicator of this (kudos to women from Central Kenya, 67% of them are in charge of their own fertility).
I just watched a clip on the Nation’s website showing the press conference at which outgoing director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, retired judge Ringera announced his departure from Integrity Centre. I don’t understand exactly why it took him so long to see the sense in doing this.The clip also hinted at rumors that Ringera may get a job in the judiciary. I hope not. He was ineffectual at KACC. He earned 2 million shillings a month and delivered nothing for Wanjiku. Public service, and the emoluments that come with it, is not the right of a select group of Kenyans. We should not keep recycling the same names. And this is not restricted to just the high profile national offices. We transfer ineffectual DCs, PPOs, directors and chiefs all the time. No wonder the more we try to implement change the more things stay the same.
As Ringera left he made some very useful suggestions on how parliament can strengthen the KACC. May be we should award his courage in resigning by implementing some of these ideas.
And on a sort of related topic, I wish Annan and Ocampo would stop issuing threats. Just give us the names. Let us know who is suspected of having done what in last year’s post poll violence. These leaders need to be named and shamed instead of being given more time to continue mis-shaping Kenya’s destiny.
Muthoni Wanyeki is my favorite weekly columnist with the East African, a regional weekly. This week she wrote a piece on the Kenyan government’s reluctance to prosecute perpetrators of the post-election violence of early 2008.
The Kenyan cabinet yesterday decided not to set up a local tribunal to try those who organized the targeted killings of people who spoke certain languages (but lived in the “wrong” places) after the bungled general elections of late 2007. Instead, in an effort to assuage the fears of a hostile parliament, the president and his cabinet decided to clean up the police force and the judiciary and have these organs try the said suspects. Yeah right.
My doubts of the cabinet’s intentions are premised on the fact that reforming the police force and the judiciary will not take a few months. The police force is the most corrupt institution in this country. Reforming it will take years. Same with the judiciary. If we are to wait for the police and judges to stop taking bribes and begin respecting the rule of law before we initiate the prosecution process then we might as well forget about the whole thing.
I remain deeply skeptical of President Kibaki’s commitment to making sure that those who organized the killing of more than 1300 Kenyans be brought to book. If he really means what he said yesterday then he should begin by firing Attorney General Amos Wako. This is a man who has been in that position through the tortures of the Moi era, the killings that preceded the 1997 general elections, and a myriad corruption scandals (including the mother of all, Goldenberg) without ever bringing any prominent player to book. Mr. Wako has been as effective as a parachute that deploys on the second bounce and should be shown the door, no questions asked.
It was always going to be difficult to bring the oafish ethnic chiefs masquerading as patriots to book. Yesterday was a stark reminder to all Kenyans that justice is political and that if change doesn’t come soon the powerful will continue doing what they want and leave the weak to suffer what they must.
Last week I took a whirlwind tour of the Rift Valley province of Kenya. For two days I accompanied a program office from the NGO that I am working with this summer to Eldoret, Burnt Forest and Timboroa. The purpose of the visit was to assess the progress of peace initiatives in the area – necessitated by the madness of last year’s post-election violence. The evidence on the ground was encouraging. Exclusive ethic zones no longer exist and free movement of people and goods is now possible. That said, tensions still exist as evidenced by the heavy police presence in the region – every few hundred metres on the Eldoret-Timboroa road there are brand new police camps.
Especially risky are the ongoing debates over the prosecution of the masterminds of ethnic violence at the Hague and the resettlement of those currently living in Mau Forest. Given that certain ethnic chiefs of the two quarreling communities are most certainly on the Waki list, some people on the ground favor a local truth and reconciliation commission which, they presume, would be less harsh on the masterminds of violence. But those whose houses were burnt or who lost relatives want real justice and are advocating for the Hague option.
Also tricky is the Mau resettlement debate. Word on the ground is that if certain people are evicted from Mau without compensation, then it will be justified to evict other people who settled in the Rift Valley decades ago outside of their “ethnic homelands.” Knowing how passionate some of those in these areas are, it makes me cringe with fear every time I hear politicians carelessly comment about the impending eviction of those who (il)legally settled in Mau Forest.
The other leg of my journey took me to Nakuru. Driving around Kabarak, visiting Lord Egerton’s Castle, hanging out at Egerton University’s serene botanical garden and dining at Kunste were all topped by the ride back to Nairobi. Next time you are coming back to Nairobi from Nakuru take the Naivasha-Mai Mahiu road. The view of the escarpment on this road is like none other. And Longonot will be right there too, with the baboons, warthogs and other wildlife.
Many thanks to my very good friend, a native of Njoro, who made the Nakuru trip the success that it was.
For the second straight week the Kenyan cabinet remains deadlocked on the way forward in the effort to bring to book those who planned the post-election violence that killed over 1300 people early last year. Several cabinet ministers are opposed to the creation of a local tribunal – which is the official position of the government – and want the suspects be investigated and tried by the ICC’s chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo at the Hague. Their position, they argue, is informed by the sorry state of Kenya’s judiciary which for all practical purposes is usually in the pocket of whoever occupies state house.
It is widely believed that a number of cabinet ministers were significantly involved in the planning of violence after the disputed election. Indeed the government funded Kenya Human Rights Commission last week released a list of suspects that was populated by cabinet ministers and members of parliament. Ministers and MPs from both sides of the political divide criticised the move and vowed to take the human rights body to court for defamation.
My two cents on this is that those that plotted the violence at the very top should go to the Hague. The middle level and small fry should be tried by a special court within Kenyan law. And as this goes on we should have a truth and reconciliation process. That way, the people at the top will know that Kenyan lives are not the expendable commodities they imagine them to be and thugs who killed innocent women and children will be punished. And above all, the truth and reconciliation process will start the process of healing among Kenyans.
Omar al-Bashir is a war criminal, no doutbt about that. Because of his genocidal tendencies hundreds of thousands of Sudanese in the East, West and South of the vast African country have lost their lives. Almost two million have been displaced from their homes and live lives not worth living. He deserves nothing but to be locked up in a tiny cell for the rest of his life.
Omar al-Bashir is also still the president of Sudan. He still has access to the security apparatus of Sudan. He can revoke aid licenses. He can bomb villages. He can jail aid workers. He has been doing a few of these things since his arrest warrant was issued by Moreno-Ocampo. He expelled aid workers in Darfur whom he accused of colluding with the ICC in gathering evidence against him. As the aid workers leave or downsize their involvement in Darfur hundreds of thousands of IDPs will be left without hope – the same people that institutions like the ICC are supposed to protect.
Justice is political. It is not some abstraction. It depends on realities on the ground. And for now the situation in Darfur is not conducive to the idea of arresting the commander in chief of the Sudanese Army. Omar al-Bashir is as guilty as charged. But it might do the Sudanese more good to engage him constructively than to demand for his immediate arrest.