Sunday, April 14, 2013

HRW: Uhuru, Ruto Should Cooperate With ICC

Human Rights Watch has urged President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

The watchdog in an online statement also called on the new government should also uphold and protect the bill of rights as stipulated in the country’s constitution.

“Kenyatta and Ruto should be held to their promises to attend their trials before the ICC,” said Elizabeth Evenson, HRW senior international justice counsel said.

“As president of an ICC member country, Kenyatta should also ensure that his government provides the cooperation it owes the ICC and the support it needs. Victims of Kenya’s post-election violence and their families have already waited more than five years for justice,” she added.

The two including their co-accused Joshua Sang, former Kass FM host have been voluntarily attending ICC proceedings in their cases before the ICC on charges of committing or contributing to the commission of crimes against humanity during Kenya’s election-related violence in 2007 and 2008.

“The new government should also reverse the climate of fear through publicly pledging to help ensure the safety of people who seek to assist justice efforts,” Evenson said.

Earlier there have been concerns on witness protection by Kenyan government with the ICC prosecutor complaining on witness interference.

Witness interference through pressure on witnesses and their families has been blamed for acquittal of Kenyatta’s co-accused Francis Muthaura after a witness feared to come forward and testify against him.

HRW blames lack of government cooperation which has seen witnesses recanting parts of their testimony and admitting to accepting bribes.

Lastly the new government should uphold the bill of rights enshrined in the country’s 2010 constitution to make progress in reform agenda especially police reforms.

“Intimidation of civil society groups increased in the periods before, during, and following the March 4 elections,” HRW indicated.

Threats against civil society activists, media, and ICC witnesses that amount to violations of national law should be investigated and prosecuted, it added.

Manuel Odeny © 2013

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