UN, Annan back local tribunal says Kenyan minister

Justice and Constitutional Minister Mutula Kilonzo has maintained that Kenya has the capacity to prosecute perpetrators of the 2007-2008 post elections chaos.

Mutula who has been widely criticized for asking the International Criminal Court – ICC to stop its activities in relation to the chaos argues that the new constitution provides adequate structures and institutions to deal with the cases and that he has the unanimous backing of the nited Nations and Chief Mediator Koffi Annan.

He said Kenya has an obligation to ensure those responsible for committing atrocities like arson, rape and murder during the chaos  are brought to book though the International Criminal Court – ICC has already moved in to investigate crimes against humanity.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi Friday after attending a workshop organized by the auctioneers licensing board, the Minister said that the government would fast-track two bills on Judiciary and Police reforms to allow for the local process to begin.

Mutula said Ocampo's presence in the country is by virtue of him having a court order allowing his office to investigate International crimes but Kenya has an obligation to ensure those responsible for committing other atrocities including murder, arson and rape during the 2008 chaos do not evade justice.

He dismissed sharp criticisms that followed his sentiments saying the pending reforms would restore confidence in the Judiciary and police.

On Thursday, US ambassador Michael Ranneberger added his voice to the debate calling on the Kenyan government to fully cooperate with the ICC.

Ranneberger said the government cannot arm twist the ICC having ratified the Rome statute.

Earlier this week,  the Kenyan Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister was under siege following his remarks on the International Criminal Court (ICC), with several lobby groups terming the remarks reckless and betrayal of Kenya's commitment to end human rights abuse.

The goof has earned him a strong rebuke from several quarters, including International Centre for Policy and Conflict Executive Director, Wainaina Ndungu, Kenya National Human Rights Commissioner Hassan Omar, Law Society of Kenya's Apollo Mboya, Nominated Member of Parliament George Nyamweya, and reknown lawyer Gibson Kamau Kuria.

The minister was quoted in the media as saying that with the passage of new the constitution, Kenya now has strong structures and mechanism to punish violence culprits.

The ICC wants those suspected to have planned and executed the post-poll violence after the December 2007 presidential elections arrested, prosecuted and charged to end what it called impunity.

ICC was cleared by the government early this month to set up base in the country as a first step towards punishing those responsible for the violence in which at least 1,133 were killed and 350,000 displaced.

The agreement signed by the government grants ICC judges, prosecutors, investigators, administrators and other staff the same status enjoyed by foreign diplomats.

It will gives them powers and privileges to move in and out of Kenya, the right to deploy its own armed officers, to import goods duty free and enjoy protection against arrest and prosecution.

Ocampo who is expected in the country by November last month said he stood by his promise to seek arrest warrants by the end of the year for up to six Kenyans from both sides of the election violence.

"I promised to present two cases this year and I will do it," he said. Each case would involve two or three people" the prosecutor told reuters.