Annan team warns of meddling in ICC

Chief Mediator Kofi Annan and former South African first lady Graca Machel address a media briefing at the Serena Hotel December 8,2009. A survey commissioned by the Panel of Eminent African Personalities revealed that senior politicians were determined to terminate or delay investigations into the post poll chaos. Photo/FILE

The Kofi Annan team that brokered the peace pact after the 2007 elections is worried that powerful forces are regrouping to frustrate the prosecution of post-election violence suspects.

The team monitoring and evaluating progress in reconciling Kenyans and pushing reforms, says communities are being mobilised to defend possible suspects.

“Impunity is re-organising and is fighting back through mobilisation of ethnic constituencies against International Criminal Court intervention,” said the report commissioned by the Panel of Eminent African Personalities.

The survey revealed that senior politicians were determined to terminate or delay investigations and eventual prosecution of key suspects because of its potential to end their political careers.

“It is only the pre-trial chamber that can stop the ICC process. The court can decide to terminate the case or send the prosecutor back to find more evidence,” said the report.

The report prepared by South Consulting from a survey done between July and October warns: “Individual politicians and other influential people have been behind the post-election violence and not communities.”

It is because such individuals have never been put on trial, the report shows, that impunity has thrived and continues to threaten the life of the very communities they claim to represent.

The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation monitoring project draft report, which was to be launched on Wednesday, is of the view that divisions in the Grand Coalition Government continues to hinder ICC’s work.

The report will be discussed by members of the Serena group next week. The report accuses some national leaders of intimidating witnesses.

They had also caused the disappearance of witnesses lined up to give evidence at The Hague if criminal prosecutions are filed. The audit notes that allegations that witnesses had been compromised, coached or intimidated is a threat to justice.

The report comes in the wake of allegations by Eldoret North MP William Ruto that a human rights watchdog had bribed people to testify against him. Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo said that if Mr Ruto does not provide proof, his allegations amount to intimidation of witnesses.

In a letter to the Kenyan government last month, the ICC’s head of International cooperation Amady Ba raised concern over reports that some witnesses had been offered bribes by people who feel threatened by the ICC.

Further, it is alleged that some politicians persuaded key witnesses against participating in the investigations, with promises of land, money and scholarships.

It has been reported that at least six potential witnesses have been flown by the ICC to Europe for their own protection. Another 70 potential witnesses are being protected by human rights groups within and outside the country.

According to the report, some of these witnesses have allegedly been approached and may have been compromised. The ICC has not been depending on government witness protection programmes.

However, the report says that some of those who left the country early are losing interest in the prosecution, citing fatigue and lack commitment to address the violence cases.

There are also allegations that some of the human rights organisations have sabotaged the ICC by releasing important confidential information to alleged perpetrators to help them prepare their evidence and identify key witnesses for harassment, intimidation or even elimination.

The survey indicates, some people in the Rift Valley and Central provinces regard the possible indictment of their leaders as unjustified on the argument of ‘who bears the greatest responsibility’ for the violence.

In spite of that, public confidence in the ICC remains high. Most people expect the prosecutions at The Hague to change Kenya’s political culture of tolerating and celebrating impunity, especially with regard to influential politicians.

The ICC’s Pre-trial chamber II approved investigations into the Kenyan situation about March this year.