On the 7th and 8th of April 2011 the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) convened to hear for the first time in the Hague the six individuals of the Kenyan Situation suspected of Crimes against Humanity. The appearances were held in order to verify the identity of the suspects and to ensure that they have been informed of the crimes they are alleged to have committed as well as aware of their rights under the Rome Statute, founding treaty of the ICC. These six suspects are:
- William Samoei Ruto
suspended Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology
- Henry Kiprono Kosgey
Member of Parliament and Chairman of the ODM Party
- Joshua Arap Sang
Head of Operations at Kass FM in Nairobi, Kenya
- Francis Kirimi Muthaura
Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet
- Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
- Mohammed Hussein Ali
Chief Executive of the Postal Cooperation of Kenya
The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC set the dates for the proceedings of confirmation of charges. The hearings will start on the 1st September 2011 in the case of The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto, Henry Kiprono Kosgey and Joshua Arap Sang and on the 21st September 2011 in the case of The Prosecutor v. Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and Mohammed Hussein Ali. Prior to the confirmation hearing, a Status Conference will be held on 18th April 2011 in order for the Prosecution to provide information on evidence it intends to use as well as the number of witnesses they will call and those who need protection. The Defence will also inform the Court, on the evidence, and live witnesses, if any, they intend to provide.
All these proceedings were initiated in answer to the chaos that ravaged Kenya in 2007-2008. Indeed, immediately after the announcement of the results of the presidential election in December 2007, the two major parties, Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), started throwing accusations at each other claiming the elections were rigged. The Electoral Commission announced that the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki from PNU, had won the elections. However, the head of the Electoral Commission was then caught on tape admitting he did not fully know who had won and that he had been pressured by both sides to announce a winner. The announcement by the Commission led to protests that escalated into a full crisis by the end of December. Reminiscent of the Rwanda events, neighbours turned on each other and the country fell into disorder. The turmoil led to much death and many people were evicted from their home.
The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC found reasonable grounds to believe that immediately after the announcement of the results of the presidential election, an attack was carried out targeting the civilian population and especially the Kikuyu, Kamba and Kisii ethnic groups, perceived as PNU supporters. As well, from 24 January 2008 to 31 January 2008, the Mungiki criminal organization allegedly carried out widespread and systematic attacks against the non-Kikuyu population perceived as supporting the ODM (mostly belonging to Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin ethnic groups).
The victims and the International Community have now been waiting for Justice for nearly 4 years. Many Kenyans do not trust the Kenyan judicial system. Despite moving down in the corruption index, Kenya still ranks in the top 20 of the world’s most corrupt countries. This phenomenon is mainly due to the disregard of the law by leaders and law enforcers. An opinion poll conducted between March 27 and April 1, 2011 indicates that 61 percent of Kenyans prefer the six suspects to be tried at the International Criminal Court, as opposed to a local option. The hope for all is for justice to be done effectively and impartially. However, the Jurisdiction of the ICC over this situation is subject to intense debate illustrated for instance by the dissenting opinion of Judge Kaul in the decision to authorize the opening of investigations. As well, the Kenyan government recently submitted a motion challenging the admissibility of the cases before the court under the principle of complementarity.