The book “Get the truth out of truth commissions” is out!

Dealing with the past is always a complex endeavor and it is particularly difficult when gross human rights violations are involved that are carried out during war or armed conflict. Truth commissions have become a standard response to address such a difficult past in the hope to provide voice to victims and provide a path to a non-violent future. Being part of the transitional justice toolkit, truth commissions are aimed to satisfy the rights of victims to truth and symbolic reparation.
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Kenyatta one year in office: mediocre at best

President Kenyatta's poster before the 4 March 2013 election in Nairobi

One year and one week ago, Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as the new president of Kenya. In early March 2013, largely peaceful elections were held. I have myself been in Eldoret, in the northern Rift Valley, for one week during the times of the elections and I was a “local” election observer with the VUP Foundation. The talk of the time were about sanctions as Western governments, particularly the UK, threatened that they might impose some sort of sanctions against a Kenyan government that would include the ICC suspects Kenyatta as well as his running mate, vice-president William Ruto. Continue reading “Kenyatta one year in office: mediocre at best”

Kenya and the ICC: No Justice for Victims

The ICC in The Hague is suffering setbacks (c) Wikipedia
The ICC in The Hague is suffering setbacks (c) Wikipedia

A week ago, the International Criminal Court prosecutor called in a statement for a delay in the Kenyan president’s trial, saying there is no longer sufficient evidence to charge Uhuru Kenyatta with crimes against humanity. The trial against him was scheduled to start on 5 February 2014. The case has suffered major setbacks in recent months, and now a key witness is not willing to testify while another one confessed to giving false evidence on a critical event in the case, according to Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The Kenyan case at The Hague remains a farce and justice for the victims of the 2007-2008 post-election violence seems to be so further away than ever. However, the fate of more than 1,000 Kenyans who had to die and 600,000 who were displaced should not be forgotten. Continue reading “Kenya and the ICC: No Justice for Victims”

Kenya at 50: Unfulfilled promises, ethnic division but hope for a bright future

Kenya celebrated 50 years of independence of the UK in December 2013 © Elijah Mucha
Kenya celebrated 50 years of independence of the UK in December 2013 © Elijah Mucha

“We are yet to reach the promised land. We have missed opportunities in the last 50 years,” admitted Uhuru Kenyatta. The Kenyan President’s speech on 12 December 2013 celebrating the 50th anniversary of Kenya took place in front of 60,000 people in the national stadium, including 14 heads of states. You can see some amazing pictures from the ceremony on Thursday which reflects Kenya’s cultural diversity, may it be old or new, with more than 40 ethnic communities in this East African country. However, the promise of Uhuru’s father, Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta, has not been fulfilled yet, as he said 50 years ago that the new government would eliminate three great scourges – poverty, ignorance and disease. Ever since the population quadrupled to more than 43 millions but their voices and concerns still need to be heard. Continue reading “Kenya at 50: Unfulfilled promises, ethnic division but hope for a bright future”

African perpetrators should continue to face justice at the ICC

Headings like “Is ICC recolonizing Africa?” were common during the past weeks in African newspapers across the continent. It does not come as a surprise, as African leaders decided on 26 May 2013 during an African Union (AU) meeting that the trials against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto should be sent back from The Hague to a national court in Kenya. The motion was brought up, quite ironically, by Uganda and reportedly supported by all AU member states with the notable exception of Botswana. This move is short-sighted and strengthens impunity on the African continent.

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Kenya’s request to re-introduce impunity

The recent statement of Kenyan United Nations (UN) Envoy Macharia Kamau in New York is odd. Mr. Kamau did not simply ask for a deferral of the cases against Kenya’s new president Uhuru Kenyatta and his vice president William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC). One of Kenya’s most important diplomats requested in very strong words an outright determination of the ICC case because they were a threat to Kenya’s national security and undermined the country’s sovereignty. However, it did not come as a surprise that the UN Security Council could not discuss the matter because it has no authority over the request. Therefore, a senior diplomat called the Kenyan move “slightly bizarre.”

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One currency for East Africa

Believe it or not: already in August the East African Community (EAC) wants to conclude a monetary union that should be signed by November 2013. The five head of states decided in Arusha, Tanzania, just one week ago that they want to achieve a further step in regional integration, hoping that a High Level Task Force consisting of senior experts will finish all negotiations in some months and resolve the outstanding issues. According to Rwanda’s “The New Times,” Rwanda’s Minister for EAC Affairs Monique Mukaruliza said that the issue of a single currency was in its final stages of conclusion.

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South Sudan still waiting to join the EAC

A week ago, the head of states of the East African Community (EAC) came together for a summit in Arusha, Tanzania. The main issue on the agenda was the establishment of a monetary union that ultimately will be necessary to achieve a federation among the five member states (see my article). However, one of the most pressing issues was not addressed as “The East African” pointed out: the future membership of countries waiting in line to become part of the most dynamic regional organization in sub-Saharan Africa.

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