By Abdi Sama Timberlake
As the president of PlaCenta Party of Kenya, I take full responsibility for whatever danger my life could face and strongly condemn suggestions for Kenya to pull out of the Rome Statute that created the Hague-based court. The proposals are based on a flawed and manufactured psyche that President Kenyatta and his Deputy Ruto are being persecuted at a foreign court created for African leaders. We have embraced the mentality that the Rome Statute is not our law and that the crimes… are crimes about land. This is because we have been gradually brainwashed to believe it that way. But is it true? My answer is a resounding NO. My shout to the old grey haired cronies of the African Union is..SHUT UP grandpas and let young blood show you how to govern. You people have demolished our countries with your hands and aren’t satisfied yet.
I may be a single voice, I may be hated by Kenyan media and politicians in general, the secret and uniform police and their militias may be baying for my blood but I will continue shouting for truth to be in the open. In fact our party’s manifesto supports the creation of an elections crimes court.
The UN Security Council must not give in to political pressure to defer Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial at the International Criminal Court for a year, Amnesty International said ahead of a scheduled vote on Friday. The victims of the post-election violence in Kenya have waited long enough for justice. It would be a shame if Security Council members prioritized the personal interests of political leaders over those of victims of crimes against humanity. Deferring the trial sets a dangerous precedent for international justice – paving the way for future trials to be derailed for political interests. Clearly, the ICC has been properly adjudicating over and managing the trials as provided for under the Rome Statute. There is no reason, therefore, for the Security Council to interfere and politicise ICC trials. Compromises or political trade-offs will seriously undermine the international justice system and entrench impunity for heads of state accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The Security Council turned down a previous deferral request by Kenya in 2011 and rejected a request in May this year. I expect them to do the same now, in the interests of the victims of crimes under international law committed in Kenya and around the world.
If the parliament could recommend our proposed Price Control Bill which was signed into law by President Kibaki, then against all the hatred fueled by the media, this was confirmation that our manifesto was a selling griddlecake.
I have always maintained that the land issue in Kenya is a thorny one and indeed I have spoken privately and publicly on the matter. We must let go of land that do not rightfully belong to us. It is widely believed that Kikuyus have been fighting for land within the Rift Valley and other regions across the Kenya. The question that is asked by other tribes is; how do they fight for land elsewhere when they do not belong there originally?
This is not something that can be decided by traditional law because traditional law did not envisage a legal or peaceful solution to foreigners attempting to occupy their lands. These were issues dealt with by the spear or machete. As a result, leaders who have been behind encouraging this tone and creating tensions across the country are ripe with the spirit of ethnic violence and civil war. This land issue if not solved now, may become the focal point for fresh violence in Kenya.
The land issue traces back to the era of former colonial governor Edward Northey who shuffled populations so that people did not have to live where they were born. Because of the colonial roots of the cases, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto’s cases can only be tried by a court that transcends tribes as whatever conclusion reached is the only hope for Kenyans who were internally displaced, forcefully deported, raped, murdered and deprived of their land. If this does not happen, the wound which despite its lengthy existence has not formed any platelets will finally burst open, taking Kenya along with it.
Already, the tension levels are high with bizzare betrayals at the Hague by Jubilee government officials. A Rift Valley senator allied to Deputy President William Ruto, Charles Keter has demanded the resignation of more than 10 top government officials whom he accuses of “coaching witnesses” to implicate Mr Ruto at the International Criminal Court. The senator’s allegations are similar to those made by Mr Ruto’s lawyers at the International Criminal Court when they cross-examined the third witness in the case facing the Deputy President. An angry Mr Keter had at that time asked Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to sack the officials on grounds that their presence in government was causing unnecessary tension. According to Mr Keter, the officials went out of their way to bribe witnesses to travel to The Hague with a view to giving false testimony before the ICC. He threatened to mobilise like-minded politicians to use all available means to kick the officials out of government if Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto fail to sack them.
These are signs that Kenya does not have the capacity to try crimes of such magnitude. Neither do any laws exist in Kenya that can try these crimes. This is not unique. There have been cases before that had to be tried at the international level. For example, Germany had no law to try Germans (after World War II) so Germans were not allowed to try Germans. If Rwandans has been allowed to handle the 1994 genocide cases, the Tutsis and the Hutus would have continued to fight.
Similarly, Kenyans cannot be allowed to try Kenyans on crimes of such magnitude. If the process of trying Deputy President William Ruto is brought to Nairobi, we will fight — definitely — because people in Rift Valley will see the judgment as emanating from a Kikuyu law. They will never see a local court as a neutral arbiter. I totally support retired PCEA minister Timothy Njoya on this – there must be a place for a law that transcends the conflicting parties.
And what about getting the accused tried in an AU country, say Tanzania? The suggestion itself is inherently racist. We cannot condemn racism against us by whites and then turn around when it is our turn to be judged to say that we cannot be tried in a “white” place. Moreover, the location of the court may be a “white” country, but the prosecutors, the judges, the clerks and the staff at the court are drawn from diverse countries including Gambia (Fatou Bensouda – Prosecutor), Italy (Louis Moreno Ocampo – Former Prosecutor, Cuno Tarfusser- Pre Trial Judge) and Bulgaria (Ekaterina Trendafilova-Judge) just to name a few.
When you come to Kenya, you will demand ‘Haki Yetu’ – One of our own should try us; once you get to Central Province, you will say the judge is not from Kiambu, he is from Karatina. Once you get one from Kiambu, you will demand one from Juja. You will never stop making excuses.
The truth of the matter is that a Kikuyu cannot try Ruto and a Kalenjin cannot try Uhuru. Neither can any of them accept to be tried by other tribes. The best way forward is to look to a neutral arbiter. God is the arbiter for the weak. The Hague at the moment is viewed as an arbiter’s chamber.
The two Kenyan cases are the costliest for the International Criminal Court. The bill over the next four years is expected to be more than Sh3 billion.
President-PlaCenta Party of Kenya