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MRG welcomes ICC ruling and calls for robust protection of minorities in Kenya

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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) welcomes the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) ruling requiring four prominent Kenyans to stand trial for crimes against humanity following post-election violence in 2007.

MRG urges the government of Kenya to specifically protect vulnerable communities as the ICC decision may create tensions and possible reprisals. Kenyans are split along political and ethnic lines regarding the ICC case with supporters of those on trial viewing it as political intrigue.

‘Last week’s ICC announcement is the first step towards providing justice for the victims of the election violence in 2007. However, tensions will remain unless the final point of the Annan-brokered plan, which was for the government to address the root causes of the violence, in particular historical grievances over expropriation of land, is implemented,’ said Chris Chapman, MRG’s Head of Conflict Prevention Programme.

‘It is particularly important to ensure that the land rights of indigenous peoples, who in many cases have lived on their land for centuries, but do not have official land title papers, are protected,’ Chapman added.

The judges confirmed that the Prosecutor, José Luis Moreno Ocampo has good evidence to establish that the crimes against humanity of murder, deportation or forcible transfer and persecution were committed as part of an ‘attack directed against particular ethnic groups, namely, Kikuyu, Kamba and Kisii, due to their perceived political affiliation to the Party of National Unity (PNU).’

The judges also confirmed that there was an attack against the civilian residents of Nakuru and Naivasha especially those perceived as supporters of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), in particular those belonging to the Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin ethnic groups.

Ocampo accuses former police commissioner Maj. Gen. Hussein Ali, head of public service Francis Muthaura, suspended higher education minister William Ruto, deputy prime minister and finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former industrialization minister Henry Kosgei, and head of operations at Kass FM Joshua Arap Sang of bearing the greatest responsibility in orchestrating violence either directly or indirectly that engulfed the country from various locations after elections in 2007.

The judges, however, refused to confirm charges against former police commissioner Hussein Ali and former industrialization minister Henry Kosgei due to lack of adequate evidence.

Muthaura and Kenyatta are charged in relation to crimes of murder, deportation or forcible transfer and rape allegedly committed in Nakuru and Naivasha in January 2008 allegedly committed against Raila Odinga’s ODM supporters while Ruto and Sang are charged separately for murder, deportation or forcible transfer and persecution, crimes they allegedly committed in the Rift Valley against supporters of Kibaki’s PNU in 2007.

The 2007/8 post-election violence erupted after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election held on December 27, 2007 but widely marred with electoral malpractices.

What started as a case of supporters of different candidates gathering to express their reactions to the election results, took an ugly ethnic twist as revenge attacks started targeting people from particular ethnic communities.

Attacks ensued between supporters of Raila Odinga’s ODM party majority from Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin ethnic groups who believed that their victory had been robbed and supporters of incumbent President Mwai Kibaki’s PNU comprising mainly people from Kikuyu, Kamba and Kisii ethnic groups.

Soon ethnic violence became widespread, particularly in the Rift Valley, causing destruction of property, loss of an estimated 1,100 lives and displacement of at least 650,000 people. It required the intervention of international mediators under the leadership of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to broker an agreement between the opposing political movements.

‘The Kenya experience, while seemingly isolated, illuminates many case studies in Africa where politicians continue to use ethnicity to gain political advantage and minorities and indigenous peoples fall prey because they are politically and economically marginalized,’ said Chapman.

Notes to Editors

  • Interview opportunities:
    • Chris Chapman, Head of Conflict Prevention Programme, Minority Rights Group International
  • Minority Rights Group International is the leading international human rights organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact the MRG Press Office on press@minorityrights.org.

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