Sunday, October 6, 2013

Museveni is not genuine with his anti-ICC position

EU decries rise in extra-judicial killings in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – The European Union is urging Kenyan authorities to thoroughly investigate allegations of extra-judicial killings in the country.
In a letter addressed to Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku, EU Ambassador Lodewijk Briet says they are increasingly concerned at claims that police are in extra judicial killings.

“We are concerned by continuous and credible reports of unlawful killings by the police and see these as proof of the urgent need for renewed momentum behind police reform,” he penned on behalf of the EU member states represented in Kenya.
EU Ambassador Lodewijk Briet has described the killings as worrying and indicative of a reversal in the gains the National Police Service has made in its bid to reform.
The letter was sent to the government a day after Muslim youth held violent demonstrations in Mombasa, accusing the police of executing a prominent cleric and three other people on Thursday night.

The Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) Adan Wachu condemned the police for not allowing the four their right to stand trial for disturbing the peace.
The youth were demonstrating the killing of Sheikh Ibrahim Ismail and three others, which came a year after Rogo Sheikh Aboud Rogo, who was in the US list of wanted persons, was assassinated.
Solving this murder, Briet said, would go a long way in restoring public confidence in the National Police Service’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring it applies equally to all citizens.
“We believe that public confidence in the police is dependent upon ensuring that all allegations of unlawful killings by the police are fully investigated. The unexplained killing of Aboud Rogo last year and the recent death of the human rights defender Hassan Ali Guyo stand out as two cases that merit particular attention,” the EU representative stated.
He urged Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo to expedite the investigations.
“As the Government of Kenya determines how to best organise the responsibilities of the various security institutions in line with the Constitution, we encourage the Government to take note of the concerns expressed and initiate a comprehensive process of consultation prior to Parliamentary consideration of the bill,” Briet urged.
The EU has said it is opposed to the amendment that seeks to broaden the use of firearms by police.
“Under the existing legislation, the use of firearms is only permitted to protect the life of the officer or that of another person. In authorising the police to use their firearms to protect property, prevent suspects from escaping lawful custody or others from assisting them, the proposed amendments go far beyond this.”


Is Museveni genuine with his anti-ICC position?

Updated Sunday, October 6th 2013 at 16:16 GMT +3

By Daniel SimotwoUganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has been leading a tirade against The Hague based International Criminal Court ( ICC) by African leaders, and has not shied away from accusing the court of targeting African leaders, as part of a racist plot by former and present imperial powers to colonise Africans again in the 21st century.

Yet ironically, most of the witnesses against Kenyan leaders have passed through Uganda or are living in safe houses in Uganda and Tanzania.

The latest episode involves the Eldoret-based journalist Walter Barasa to whom the ICC has issued a warrant of arrest over accusations of bribery of witnesses.
Barasa and a witness he is said to have passed through Uganda and actually lived there for some months.
Other witnesses have also been reported to be in Uganda or passed through Uganda on their way to better destinations.
When Museveni cries with Kenyan leaders, is he shedding genuine tears, or is he pushing Kenya to make wrong moves that will see the country ostracised by the global community? Uganda is a landlocked country and has to rely on Kenya to access global markets. It is therefore understandable that Uganda would naturally be concerned about the type of government Kenya boasts.

For a number of years, Museveni was a darling of western powers, and was crucial in furthering western interests in the Great Lakes region. This was evidenced by US President Bill Clinton’s visit to Uganda in 1998.
Since then the fortunes of Museveni with western powers has been nose diving mainly due to the end of most conflicts in the Great Lakes region, and his own authoritarian management of Ugandan internal politics.

Museveni has always been wary of a Kenyan leader emerging to become a darling of the West, a position former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was set to achieve had he been president, which would have shunted Museveni into the periphery.
Museveni has been quoted in a number of media urging President Uhuru Kenyatta not to honour the summons to appear before The Hague, as this would be a humiliating experience for a sitting African president and an assault on the country’s sovereignty.

Museveni knows as all those following this matter that if Kenyan leaders were to defy the ICC, then there are bound to be detrimental consequences.
The embrace of succor from Museveni over the ICC issue may be a poisoned chalice whose effects would become clear in the years to come.

Daniel Simotwo, Political Science Lecturer and PhD student in Peace and Conflict Studies

Extradition case against Kenyan activist kicks off Monday

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – The government will on Monday commence formal extradition proceedings against activist Walter Barasa who is wanted in The Hague for allegedly trying to interfere with witnesses testifying in the ICC trial against Deputy President William Ruto.
A source at the Interior and National Coordination ministry has told Capital FM News that extradition proceedings documents drafted by Attorney General Githu Muigai are ready to table at a magistrate’s court on Monday morning.

“The AG’s office has been working closely with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the matter is ready to go to court now because that is the legal process required in this matter,” a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity not to compromise his position.
As per the provisions of Kenyan laws set out under the International Crimes Act 2010, the government is required to submit international warrants to the Magistrates court which makes a determination after examining the extradition documents and hearing from the accused.
“These procedures require the minister in charge of the Interior upon receipt of the formal warrant of arrest to present it to the Judiciary for enforcement,” Attorney General Githu Muigai said on Wednesday after receiving the warrant for Barasa’s arrest.

The warrant was issued in August but remained sealed until Wednesday last week when it was made public.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda last week said she expects authorities in Kenya to urgently arrest and send Barasa to The Hague to face relevant charges where he is accused of trying to influence three witnesses with up to Sh1.5 million.
“We expect the Kenyan government to arrest and surrender Barasa to ICC without delay. I believe that executing this warrant to Kenya is an opportunity to demonstrate its co-operation which they say they have given to the ICC. It is an opportune moment for them to arrest Barasa and surrender him to the court,” the prosecutor said at a press conference in The Hague.
The warrant was issued on August 2 by Judge Cuno Tarfusser who said the OTP had provided sufficient evidence on the matter.
“Allegedly, he has been and is still acting in furtherance of a criminal scheme devised by a circle of officials within the Kenyan administration.”
Barasa has however, denied the accusations that he attempted to bribe three witnesses only identified as P0536, P0336 and P0256 and has in turn accused the OTP of victimising him for his refusal to testify against the Deputy President.
“That man (an ICC investigator) was telling me to admit that I am being used by Ruto to get to witnesses but I told him that I have never even met the Deputy President. So I told him to go and issue that warrant of arrest,” Barasa told Capital FM News.
Barasa has already instructed British-born lawyer Nick Kaufman to represent him on the matter.

ICC wants Kenyan arrested over witness ‘bribery’

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for the arrest of activist Walter Osapiri Barasa, accusing him of bribing Prosecution witnesses with between Sh1mn and Sh1.5mn for them to withdraw their evidence in the case against Deputy President William Ruto.
Among the witnesses who were allegedly offered bribes is P0536 – who is the first to testify against Ruto and his co accused Joshua arap Sang.

A document from the ICC shows that she was offered Sh1.4 million to recant her evidence while another witness only identified as P0336 was offered between Sh1 million and Sh1.5 million to pull out.
The 41-year old former journalist is also accused of organising a meeting where another witness, only identified as P0256, could be bribed in order to withdraw her evidence.
Judge Cuno Tarfusser issued the warrant against Barasa on August 2 but it was unsealed on Wednesday. The court wants him arrested to ensure that he does not obstruct justice any further.

“Walter Barasa is criminally responsible as a direct perpetrator for the crime of corruptly influencing or, alternatively, attempting to corruptly influence witnesses by offering to pay them to withdraw as ICC Prosecution witnesses in the context of the Kenyan cases before the ICC,” said the judge.
Barasa is accused of committing the crimes on diverse dates between May 20 and July 21 this year but he has vehemently denied the accusations saying that an official from the court has been threatening him.
Speaking to Capital FM News, he said that he was not afraid of being arrested because he had nothing to hide.
“That man was telling me to accept that I am being used by Ruto to get to witnesses but I told him that I have never even met the Deputy President. So I told him to go and issue that warrant of arrest but I’m on my way to Nairobi (from Eldoret) to come and address a press conference,” he said.
“I have not committed any crime and I did not play any role in the post election violence so I will not hide myself. I am coming to Nairobi.”
The judge said that the Prosecution had provided sufficient evidence to show that Barasa corruptly influenced Prosecution witnesses and has been working in cahoots with other officials within the Kenyan administration.
Barasa, who is also an activist in Eldoret, becomes the first suspect to be charged by the court with an offence against the administration of justice.
He faces three counts – two accusing him of corruptly influencing a witness while the third accuses him of attempting to corruptly influence a witness.
The Office of the Prosecutor has time and again expressed concern that its witnesses were being threatened and coerced to withdraw their accounts in the Kenyan cases.
“Allegedly, he has been and is still acting in furtherance of a criminal scheme devised by a circle of officials within the Kenyan administration,” observed Judge Tarfusser.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants Barasa to be arrested immediately and transferred to The Hague-based court for prosecution.
Barasa faces up to five years in prison, a fine, or both if he is found guilty.
“There is evidence to suggest that Walter Barasa tried to bribe someone he thought was a Prosecution witness in the case against Mr Ruto,” said Bensouda.
“We expect Kenyan authorities to arrest Walter Barasa and hand him over to the court.”
Barasa previously worked as a journalist for the Daily Nation before joining the People Daily.



Was Museveni voicing real African dislike of ICC?

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 20 – Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as Kenya’s new Head of State on April 9, but it was Yoweri Museveni – the longstanding president of neighbouring Uganda – who stole the headlines at the two-hour ceremony in Nairobi.
During a speech delivered to a packed stadium on the edge of Nairobi, Museveni congratulated Kenya for “rejecting blackmail” by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He went on to accuse western leaders of using the Hague court to “install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they do not like”.

Museveni was speaking on behalf of 11 African Heads of State and other foreign representatives who attended Kenyatta’s inauguration as Kenya’s fourth president.
Kenyatta and Deputy-President William Ruto, who was also sworn in, both face trial at the ICC – along with a third suspect, Joshua arap Sang – on charges of orchestrating the violence that engulfed Kenya following the last presidential election five years ago.
Between December 2007 and early 2008, more than 1,100 people died as supporters of the Party of National Unity, PNU, and the Orange Democratic Movement took up arms over the disputed poll result.

Kenyatta is the first individual to become head of state while facing trial at the ICC. His case is scheduled for July, while Ruto’s is due to start in late May.
Analysts are divided on the significance of the Ugandan leader’s remarks. Are they a genuine reflection of growing African opposition to the court, or should they be seen simply as an attempt by Museveni to win political support across the East Africa region?
The Hague court responded by emphasising that its investigations are entirely independent from any political process, and are based solely on evidence.
“The ICC has continuously ensured that it does not seek to have any influence in the political sphere,” Maria Kamara, the ICC’s spokesperson in Kenya, told IWPR.
Others argue that Museveni’s new stand against the ICC is disingenuous. After all, in 2003, Museveni was the first national leader to refer crimes in his country to the court.
He invited the then ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, to investigate the long running conflict in northern Uganda. As a result, the international court issued an arrest warrant in 2005 for five members of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA—including its leader, Joseph Kony.
“Museveni’s remarks are totally hypocritical because he invited the ICC to pursue Kony in his country,” Godfrey Musila, an international criminal justice lawyer in Nairobi, said. “He cannot come out and attack the ICC now.”
Nevertheless, some would say Museveni’s outburst does reflect a sense that African leaders are uniting behind Kenya, and that hostility to the ICC is growing. Critics point out that all eight of the full investigations that the court has carried out to date have been in African countries.
Professor Macharia Munene, a lecturer in history and international relations at the United States International University in Nairobi, said African states feel targeted by the court, and may wish to turn their backs to it.
“They are now seeing the ICC as a tool out to punish Africa and they want to take control. There are leaders out there who have done much bigger things but nothing has been done to them (by the ICC),” Munene said.
For Munene, Museveni’s strong criticism of the court leads to the conclusion that “Africa may end up uniting to find solutions to their (own) problems”.
David Smith, writing in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper, said Museveni’s speech had increased the pressure on the ICC, particularly in terms of how it is perceived in Africa.
“So far, it is not Kenyatta on trial in the court of world opinion but the International Criminal Court, ICC, for which this (case) is seen as a defining moment,” Smith wrote. “(Museveni) highlighted a stain that the ICC seems unable to wash away – the perception that it is an instrument of the West that is inherently biased against Africa.”
The Ugandan president’s comments came amid simmering tensions around the whole ICC process in Kenya. Before the March 4 elections, foreign diplomats, including from the United States, warned Kenyans that there would be “consequences” for their country if they elected ICC suspects to high office. The UK said it had a policy of “non-contact” with state leaders facing trial at the ICC.
Despite their imminent trial for crimes against humanity, the election result was a ringing endorsement of the level of support that Kenyatta and Ruto enjoy at home. Kenyatta won the presidency with more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round.
The new president used his swearing-in speech on April 9 to repeat his pledge to cooperate with the ICC. But he also gave western governments an indirect caution against meddling in Kenya’s handling of the ICC process.
“We must remember that no one country or group of countries should have control or monopoly on international institutions or the interpretation of international treaties,” he said.
In similar vein, Ruto used his speech to refer to the “consequences” cited by foreign diplomats in the run up to the elections.
“Many of you did not believe that we will win this election, because it was said that choices have consequences, and that if you vote for Uhuru (and) Ruto there will be consequences,” he said to rapturous applause. “But look at what happened – people of Kenya did not just vote and make us win, but they did it in round one.”
Despite the negative rhetoric about the ICC in Kenya and other parts of Africa, some analysts believe Museveni was really pursuing a different aim.
Moses Chelang’a, a lawyer and political analyst in Nairobi, said that rather than taking Museveni’s words at face value, they should be seen as reflecting an aspiration to position himself as statesman for the whole East Africa region.
“Museveni was endearing himself to President Kenyatta by placing himself as a friend in time of need, but in essence he is interested in his position in the East African Community,” Chelang’a said. The community is a regional inter-governmental bloc consisting of Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania as well as Kenya and Uganda.
After 27 years at the helm in Uganda, Museveni is keen to flex his political muscles and show he can represent the interests of Kenya and other East African states on the international stage.
“He (Museveni) has always wanted to be seen as the one with the clout in the (East African Community), and now he wanted to demonstrate to Uhuru (Kenyatta) that he has that clout,” Chelang’a said.
While Kenyan leaders old and new have pledged to cooperate with the ICC, they have made no secret of their opposition to its investigations in their country. Since the ICC began its investigations in 2009, Kenya has petitioned the United Nations Security Council to defer the cases, and applied to The Hague for them to be referred back to the national judiciary.
During campaigning for the March election, Kenyatta described his election bid as a referendum on the ICC.
While the ICC’s critics are keen to portray it in a negative light, Chelang’a points out that African leaders do not share a uniform position on the merits of the court. Instead, their view of the institution seems to depend on whether it is they or their opponents who face charges.
“(President) Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo is happy to have the rebels at the ICC, and (President) Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast will tell you it was the best thing to have former president (Laurent) Gbagbo face charges in ICC, while Kenyatta and (Sudan’s president Omar) al-Bashir will have no kind words for the court,” Chelang’a said.
Although it sometimes looks like the ICC has focused solely on African countries, analysts point out that those states that signed up to the court did so voluntarily, and in most cases they themselves invited the ICC to come in and investigate conflict situations.
The cases of Sudan and Libya came to the ICC by another mechanism, referral by the UN Security Council.
It was in fact only in the Kenya case that the ICC intervened of its own accord.
“There is some truth in it, that the ICC has focused on Africa, because all the situations are from Africa,” Musila said. “(But) African leaders seem to be unaware that each and every action they take has consequences. Like when they sign treaties.”
Bernard Momanyi is a reporter for and News Editor at Capital FM in Nairobi.
This article was produced as part of a media development programme by IWPR and Wayamo Communication Foundation in partnership with Capital FM.


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