BY JUDIE KABERIA
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – Kituo Cha Sheria Executive Director Priscilla Nyokabi on Thursday appealed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to speed up the decision whether a case can be opened against perpetrators of the post-election violence.
She told Capital News that the list of 20 handed over to the judges by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo was likely to spur more threats on prospective witnesses if the court did not speed up the ruling.
“There is going to be fear whether there will be interferences with the witnesses… there have been fears already. Once the judges allow Mr Ocampo to investigate, then the ICC will be able to offer the witnesses protection,” she said.
But she pointed out it was the prerogative of the government to protect victims and witnesses since the ICC judges had not yet decided on the Kenyan case.
“What the ICC is using now is not hard evidence. It is information to reasonable suspicion looking at the reports we have, the Waki report and other information sent to the ICC,” she asserted.
The lawyer urged the government to ensure that the witness protection agency is strong enough to serve its purpose of protecting witnesses.
Ms Nyokabi warned those implicated against inciting people, if the Prosecutor get a go ahead, saying it would only worsen their cases at the ICC.
She advised them to remain calm since they were only suspects: “You don’t bring yourself on a second suffering, the ICC does not tire of investigating, and it is already bad enough that you are already in the list of suspects, any further violence just aggregates your case, and the law does not usually take that very kindly!”
“It is better you come and defend yourself for what you have been accused of but if you bring new evidence against yourself of interfering with the process you are now obstructing justice which is an offence itself. I’m hoping the political class does not make Kenya a ridicule of the international world by obstructing justice.”
She also appealed to Kenyans to desist from engaging in further violence since they were matters of justice not aimed at any community or group.
Though she emphasised the need to establish a local tribunal in the country, the lawyer said the 20 names handed over to the judges will have to be investigated by the ICC if Mr Ocampo gets the green light.
She said the government had not showed any serious efforts to investigate perpetrators of the post election violence which gave the ICC the leeway to intervene in the Kenyan case.
The fact that some of the suspects were senior leaders in the country, Ms Nyokabi said it will cause a lot of mayhem to try them locally but insisted on a local tribunal to try the bulk of other perpetrators accused of minor offences.