Kenyan church leaders back international court enquiry

Kenyan church leaders back international court enquiry

By Ecumenical News International
9 Dec 2010

Kenyan church leaders are calling on politicians to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which is investigating the 2007-2008 post election violence that killed 1300 people - writes Fredrick Nzwili.

The call came after some politicians accused Moreno Ocampo, the ICC chief prosecutor, of creating "mischief", and playing a political game which they said is based on false evidence.

"The ICC must start the trials immediately and there should be no sacred cows. Those who are going to be indicted must seek to clear themselves before a court," the Rev. Peter Karanja, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, told ENInews on 8 December.

While in Nairobi, Ocampo on 2 December announced he will issue summonses to six individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for the violence, by 17 December. This has since increased tension in political circles with some political, church and civil society leaders warning that the handling of the process could ignite fresh violence.

"It is possible violence may breakout. There are some pronouncements that we think are not helping the process, but it must not be stopped because of the threat of new violence," said Karanja, whose organization presented one million signatures to urge the ICC at the start of investigations into the violence.

Still, he called on the ICC to mount a fair trial and not be manipulated by Kenyan politicians.

"He must demonstrate he is above the political players’ intrigues and crack down on the perpetrators. This is the real test for him," Karanja said.

The churches also want a local tribunal to try thousands of others who participated in the violence because the International Court of Justice at The Hague can only accommodate a small number of accused.

"Not everyone will be taken to The Hague so the other offenders can be prosecuted locally. We have good judges here …. We have everything going for us and we should seize the opportunity," said Bishop Arthur Kitonga, a regional president of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, at a press conference on 7 December 2010.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

[Ekk/3]

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