The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project called on the Government of Kenya and the International Criminal Court to ensure the security of all those involved in bringing the case to trial following the 23th January 2012 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to confirm charges against four of the six suspects in the two cases emanating from the violence in Kenya following the 2007 presidential elections.
In a summary of its decisions read out in the courtroom, the Chamber confirmed the charges against William Samoei Ruto, Joshua arap Sang, Francis Kirimi Muthaura, and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, finding that there were “substantial grounds to believe” that the suspects were responsible for the crimes with which they were charged. In relation to the charges against Henry Kiprono Kosgey and Mohammed Hussein Ali, the Chamber ruled that the evidence provided by the Prosecutor had failed to meet the evidentiary threshold.
The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (EHAHRDP’s focal point in Kenya) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcomed the pre-trial chamber judges’ reminder of their “previous warning to the Suspects that their continued liberty is subject to their non?engagement in incitement of violence or hate speech.” Witnesses and others cooperating with the ICC investigations have been threatened and attacked.
“The Government of Kenya must carry out thorough and impartial investigations and hold the perpetrators to account,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project. “It is the Government’s duty to ensure respect for the court process and the security of all those who are or have been involved in the ICC process in Kenya and those human rights defenders who have worked closely with them.”
The ICC has an existing duty to protect its witnesses. In addition, the Draft Guidelines Governing the Relations Between the Court and Intermediaries, finalized last year though not yet formally adopted, recognize that the ICC “has a duty to prevent or manage security risks to intermediaries, resulting from the intermediaries’ interaction with the Court.” The Court should put in place a strategy to protect human rights defenders as the cases come to trial and in the run-up to national elections in Kenya in 2013.
In line with the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the EU delegation and diplomatic missions of EU member states should put in place a local implementation strategy to support HRDs based on a clear analysis of their current situation and protection needs.
Some Kenyans are calling on Hon. Uhuru and Mr. Muthaura to step down in line with Chapter Six of the Constitution, in the section that deals with “leadership and integrity”, and in accordance with agreements signed by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on both 16th December 2008 and 5th November 2009, that any person holding public office or any public servant charged with a criminal offence related to 2008 post-election violence would be suspended from duty until the matter is fully adjudicated upon; and that any person convicted of a post-election violence offence should be barred from holding any public office or contesting any electoral position.
“Human rights defenders, like anyone else, have the right to freely express their opinions on this process as long as they do not incite violence or promote hate speech, free from any harassment or intimidation” said Samwel Mohochi, chair of trustees of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders. “We expect the Government of Kenya to ensure that those exercising this right are fully protected.”
For more information, please contact:
Hassan Shire Sheikh, Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on [email protected] or +256 772 753 753
Kamau Ngugi, Coordinator, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Kenya on +254 722 166 382