Thursday, February 7, 2008

Truth shall set us free, says ICJ - 2/07/2008

Publication Date: 2/7/2008

The International Commission of Jurists has thrown its weight behind the proposal to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as proposed by mediators.

Former South African First Lady Graca Machel arrives at Serena Hotel in Nairobi on Wednesday to continue with the on-going negotiations chaired by Mr Kofi Annan and former Tanzania president Benjamin Mkapa.

This would help build peace and healing in Kenya, where nearly 1,000 people have been killed and 300,000 displaced in post election violence ever since President Kibaki was declared winner, ICJ said.

In a statement, chairman Wilfred Nderitu, said: “ICJ-K holds the view that injustice can never be a path to justice, and known avenues of seeking redress and justice must therefore be used.”

The commission also supported the mediation talks between PNU and ODM leaders chaired by former UN boss Kofi Annan, and their road map to peace.

Other members
Other members of the team are former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa and Ms Graca Machel, wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela.

On Wednesday, the commission said it abhorred the gross violations of international law and the culture of violence which continued to be a threat to the right to life, property and liberty.

Said the chairman: “ICJ is deeply concerned that even as the mediation talks progress, violence and other gross violations of international humanitarian law continue unabated in various places.”

Mr Nderitu was optimistic that the talks at Serena Hotel in Nairobi, between the eight representatives, four each from PNU and ODM, would signal a return to the rule of law. The PNU team has Cabinet ministers Martha Karua (Justice and Constitutional affairs), Sam Ongeri (Education) and Moses Wetangula (Foreign affairs), as well as Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo.

Their ODM counterparts are MPs Musalia Mudavadi (Sabatia), William Ruto (Eldoret North), Sally Kosgei (Aldai) and James Orengo (Ugenya).

ICJ said it had identified and categorised the various forms of violence as “killings and other forms of personal injury which appeared to be spontaneous, and which erupted on December 30 after the presidential results were announced declaring President Kibaki winner; post polls violence which seemed to have been targeted at certain communities and; violence targeting some communities under the disguise of retaliation.

He said some killings were through excessive use of force by the police and decried the widespread and unprecedented levels of rape, sodomy and other indecent acts targeting members of certain ethnic communities.

The commission wants those who committed the crimes brought to book, and asked the UN High Commission for Human Rights to probe violations of international humanitarian law.

International court
It also recommended that suspects be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court and that Parliament, as soon as it reconvenes, enacts the International Crimes Bill.

Said Mr Nderitu: “ICJ-K stresses that use of force by police and other law enforcement agencies must remain measure of the last resort, and even then, force must be reasonable when all non-violent measures have failed, and only when there is imminent threat to the life of officers.

He added that injustice could never bring justice, and called for an end of impunity by the authorities, saying it could frustrate reconciliation and peace.

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