Monday, February 10, 2014


At the time of writing, the International Criminal Court (ICC) case brought against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is tottering very badly on the brink of collapse.

The case comes out of the 2007 post-election bloodletting in Kenya, where it is estimated that as many as a thousand people were killed and tens of thousands more displaced.

The now allies Kenyatta along with his deputy Willima Ruto stand accused of masterminding the conflict from opposite sides of the political divide.

In a strange twist of affairs that can only happen in politics, five years later the pair stood as running mates and leveraged their then brewing challenges with the ICC as an imperialist ploy meant to shackle Kenya.

As Kenyatta ascended to the presidency a determined diplomatic effort kicked off to have the case dropped by the ICC despite protestation by Kenyatta and Ruto that they would respect a pledge they made during campaigns that they would cooperate fully with ICC including availing themselves to the court in the Hague.

"Kenyatta’s new found reluctance not to cooperate is understandable not only because the stakes are extremely high for him personally but also once he became president of Kenya his personal pledges are secondary to his responsibility as President...

The way it looks is that Kenyatta may have dodged this bullet as may his deputy eventually.
The two major losers out of the events would have to be the ICC and the victims of the violence.
In principle the ICC was set up out of eh reality that some of the worst human right abuses are carried out by leaders against their own people, safe in the knowledge that they are protected from prosecution and even if they weren’t who would prosecute them in their respective countries?
That an outside party will ferret out such leaders was always going to be a tall order. It did not help that in trying to get Uhuru-Ruto off the hook the impression has been permanently planted that the ICC is only out to get Africans.

Of the 36 publically indicted by the court since its inception all of them are Africans. There is a lot going wrong in Africa – as Africans themselves can attest, but so too around the world. Around this point it has been easy to mobilise opposition.

Figures vary but it is widely believed that at least 1,000 people lost their lives, a few thousand more were injured and up to 600,000 were forcibly displaced.

The Kenyan authorities – coming to almost a decade later, have shown no appetite to bring the perpetrators to justice, understandable because for violence on such a scale to have taken place must have the active or succinct approval of high ranking politicians on both sides.

"The problem cannot be wished away. Once the ICC has been “dealt” with it does not take a prophet to see that Kenya will have to face up to the issue and resolve it one way or another.
Most African countries have signed up to the Rome Statute which gives the ICC its jurisdiction. Clearly they signed on for reasons other than that the chicken will come to roost at their door steps.
One can expect that if the Uhuru-Ruto case falls through the ICC will be scrambling to get some prize scalps if only to maintain their relevance...

The truth is that in a world where some people can run rough shod over the rest of us, no one really holds the moral high-ground to bring others to book.

The sustainable thing is to have the justice systems in this country working efficiently. Going by the history of justice even in western democracies we can expect that it will not take a decade or two.

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