Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Anatomy of Accountability

On 16 October 2013,  I was a panelist, together with Maria Kamara, the ICC Outreach Coordinator in Kenya, and Steve Lamony of the Coalition for the ICC, at a media briefing organized by Journalists for Justice at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi. You can listen to the audio of my presentation here:  The anatomy of accountability

My friend Njeri Okono kindly transcribed the salient points of my presentation for those who may not have time to listen to the audio. Thanks Njeri.

Njonjo Mue says: 
We've aided and abetted politicians to turn the post-election violence (PEV) narrative on its head. The victims are no longer those who were murdered, raped, sexually mutilated, dispossessed or displaced. Some picks from his audio clip:

"The victims are now 2 or 3 people who themselves told us they want to have their day in court…the victims are those individuals who have mobilised all the resources of the State, and the resources of the continent, to try and put a spanner in the wheels of justice."

"The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." [Milan Kundera, writer]

"We don't have a national narrative. All we have are politicians saying one thing today, completely denying it tomorrow, and we behave as if that is the truth, despite the fact that we DO know that that is not the truth."

"Kenya has a history of human rights violations... massacres, torture, assassinations, grand corruption. This has been compounded by a culture of impunity, where people who are well connected, or powerful individuals never have had to face up to what they have done. People have killed and maimed others to ascend to power but nothing has been done... [an entrenched culture and cycle] of election[-related] violence...all culminating in the post-election violence of 2007-2008...People had come to realise that you can get away with murder, quite literally…You can do whatever you want to get to power, or to retain power. That is just the Kenyan way."

"Since post-election violence, we've had what I'd call post-post-election violence. We've had Tana River, Baragoi, Busia, Bungoma, Samburu, Mandera...We did what we've always done. We appointed a commission of inquiry, it reported, we've not seen the report...We're starting to go back to where we came from before the intervention of the ICC...It is important to talk about facts in order to get to the truth."

"It is important to remind ourselves how ICC ended up being a daily reality, because politicians make it sound like the ICC just showed up at our doorstep, kicked the door open, got involved with our internal affairs, and therefore should go away and mind its own business, and leave us to mind ours."

"Kenya played a key role in the drafting of the Rome Statute...voluntarily signed it... States, in the exercise of their sovereignty, voluntarily sign the Rome Statute...Who forced Kenya to go into the ICC? Kenya exercised its sovereignty to do that."

"Sovereignty is not something you pick and drop at your own convenience."

"The ICC is a court of last resort: it only steps in when a State party is unable -- or unwilling -- to prosecute...In the case of Kenya, it was a case of unwillingness, rather than inability. Kenya was given several opportunities to establish a domestic mechanism, but it failed to do so. But who took us there?...Ruto is on record as saying... 'Let's go to The Hague, because the ICC takes 90 years to start an investigation, and by that time we'll all be gone'...Who in Parliament voted against [the proposed] local Special Tribunal? Parliament took us there [The Hague]. The Government of Kenya took us there."

On domestic handling of PEV cases, and closing the impunity gap: "Even if the ICC cases go ahead, they are only pursuing three people, and there are hundreds, possibly thousands of middle-level and lower-level perpetrators. People in the villages say 'Somebody stole my cow; they are still milking it', 'Somebody took my furniture; they are still sitting on it', 'Somebody burnt my house; I know who they are!'. It's critical that these people be investigated and prosecuted, and if found guilty, they must be punished...That is the only way we shall restore the rule of law in Kenya. And that is the only way -- through pursuing of justice -- we shall get to a sustainable peace for this country."