Human rights groups want fair hearing for William Ruto, Joshua Sang


KENYA: Human rights organisations want the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang at the International Criminal Court conducted in a non-partisan way.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) said the trials would provide an opportunity for the society to unearth the truth about the violence that took place after the 2007 disputed presidential election.

KHRC Deputy Executive Director David Malombe said victims of the 2007/2008 post-poll skirmishes had waited for more than five years to get justice.

“This process is needed to pave the road towards lasting peace, the prevalence of the rule of law and to prevent any future atrocities such as the ones that took place in 2007/2008. This is also an opportunity for victims to find justice in an independent court of law. Given the time-lapse and the intricacies that continue to surround the Kenyan cases, it is time the trials begin,” said Malombe.

In a statement sent to newsrooms yesterday, he said ICC could not afford to lose the confidence and trust victims had in it.

He said the international court must deliver on the expectations of both the accused and the victims, and ultimately offer an opportunity for truth about the post-election chaos to be unravelled in an impartial judicial process.

Ruto and his co-defendant, former head of operations at Kass FM, Sang, will face judges of Trial Chamber V (a) of the ICC.

Crimes against humanity

Both are charged with murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution amounting to crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the ICC, committed in the context of the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

More than 300 victims have been authorised to participate in the proceedings in the case against Ruto.

During the last couple of months, victims and witnesses withdrew their participation in the proceedings in the midst of alleged intimidation.

The limited scope of the ICC, which only focuses on those bearing the greatest responsibility, requires that national authorities investigate and prosecute crimes committed by middle and lower level perpetrators, a situation Malombe said has not been dealt with by the government.

However, more than five years after the violence, there has been little effort by the Kenyan government to ensure accountability for the perpetrators and ensure justice and reparation for the victims.

The two human rights watchdogs cautioned that the current efforts by members of Parliament from the Jubilee Alliance – supporting Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto – to seek Kenya’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute and repeal of the International Criminal Crimes Act, may affect Kenya’s cooperation with the court.

The groups also cast further doubt on the authority’s willingness to bring justice to victims through national proceedings and further perpetuates the culture of impunity.