- Human Rights Watch has urged the Kenyan government to renew efforts leading to the establishment of the special tribunal to try those responsible for the 2007 post election violence saying it should not abandon its responsibility as a state.
The HRW call follows the UN extension of two more months in February to establish a court, after the Kenyan parliament voted against the Bill which was expected to pave way for the formation of the tribunal saying they had no faith in Kenya's justice system.
The Executive Director of Human Rights, Watch Kenneth Roth, said the special tribunal is the best option for justice for the victims of the election violence. "If the tribunal is manipulated by the government, then the threat of the ICC remains, but it should be a last resort, not the first port of call,” he said.
The rights body has also called on the Kenyan government to amend the flaws in the draft legislation and take steps to win public support for the bill before reintroducing it in parliament.
The organisation has urged the government to consult with civil society and legal experts to address criticisms of the existing draft bill for the special tribunal and constitutional amendment.
“In particular, the bills need to ensure that the tribunal judges are completely independent and that no one is immune from justice under its jurisdiction,” HRW recommended.
Last month, the former UN chief, Kofi Annan, chairman of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities and the broker of the original agreement that ended the violence, granted the government more time to reintroduce the measures.
President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga who fought for the bill in parliament including intensive lobbying, are still pushing for the tribunal as both local and international pressure intensifies.
The Commission to Investigate the Post-Election Violence led by Justice Philip Waki recommended wide-ranging reforms of the police as well as the creation of a special tribunal for Kenya, independent of the judiciary, anchored in a constitutional amendment and staffed by both Kenyan and international judges and prosecutors.
The Commission had set a deadline of 30 January 2009, to pass legislation to establish the tribunal, with Kenyan and international judges. But on February 12, parliament voted against a constitutional amendment, the first of the two bills that would have established the tribunal.
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