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Mt Elgon victims cry out to ICC to take up their case

BUSINESS
By | October 31st 2011

 

By Robert Wanyonyi

Residents in Mt Elgon District who were victims of atrocities by the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF) militia group want the International Criminal Court to take up their case.

Human Rights Watch Researcher in Africa Division Neela Ghoshal (right) presents Hold your Heart, Waiting for Justice in Mt. Elgon region, Kenya document to Western Provincial Commissioner Samuel Kilele at his office in Kakamega Monday. Photo: Benjamin Sakwa/Standard

The victims are in support of a recent report released by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that they say captured everything that had been concealed from the international community.

Without naming names, the victims accuse politicians and provincial administrators in the region of frustrating their efforts to pursue justice.

Speaking in Cheptais and Kapsokwony District headquarters, they hailed the report released by HRW Researcher Neela Ghoshal in Nairobi last week saying it captured everything that had hitherto been concealed from the international community.

"We have suffered for years with our cries for justice being suppressed by those we expected to assist us. It is our hope that the ICC will eventually include the Mt Elgon case as one depicting crimes against humanity," said Geoffrey Cheptek, a victim of the defunct Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF) militia group.

They said they will support efforts by HRW and local human rights organisations to seek justice for them through the ICC adding that some local politicians involved in crimes against them were walking scot-free.

The residents spoke as Neela officially presented the report titled, "Hold Your Heart": Waiting For Justice In Kenya’s Mount Elgon Region," to Western Provincial Commissioner Samuel Kilele in Kakamega on Monday.

The HRW researcher announced that copies of the report would be distributed to the provincial administration offices in Mt Elgon.

"We are going to make sure that the Mt Elgon case is treated with the same weight that other cases before the ICC are treated because hundreds of people were killed, others maimed while thousands, majority of whom were displaced during the skirmishes, are yet to return back to their farms," said Neela.

At the same time, Mwatikho Torture Survivors Organisation, a human rights group that documented torture cases in Mt Elgon at the height of the SLDF uprising has announced that it has fresh facts that will be presented to the ICC should it take up their case.

Mwatikho Executive-Director Taiga Wanyanja said his group was impressed by the HRW report and would provide additional information to ensure that the culprits behind the suffering of the masses in Mt Elgon were finally brought to book.

"We had been frustrated before by some political leaders and the provincial administration but now following the release of the report, we are ready to provide our side of the story," said Wanyanja.

Wanyanja said that they hoped ICC Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo would treat the matter as urgent to ensure that victims were assured of no more violence as the country gears up for the next general elections in 2012.

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