The trial of former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor in The Hague marks another milestone in the international democratization process and respect of human rights especially in the third world countries of Africa. One certainly hopes that Kenyan leaders are following events at the Hague!
Ex-President Taylor faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is accused of funding Sierra Leone's former rebels, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) by selling diamonds on their behalf and buying weapons for them. RUF fighters were notorious for hacking off the arms and legs of the civilian population with machetes, as well as killing, raping and robbing them.
Charles Taylor, born 59 year ago, is the first African leader to face a criminal trial internationally and is charged with having command responsibility for the rebels' atrocities. He has pleaded not guilty.
It would seem obvious to the world that Taylor will not be the last ex-African president to face similar charges.
If what Kenyan civilians are experiencing in Nyanza, Western, Nairobi, Rift Valley and Coast Provinces, then it would not be too far-fetched to imagine Mwai Kibaki in a similar ICC trial facing charges that would make RUF crimes look like child's play.
The Kenya Red Cross and the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the Nairobi Womens Hospital have all been reporting horrendous cases of police executions, gang rape of women and children, burning of buildings with people locked inside, machete hacking of unarmed civilians. Incidentally, a majority of these crimes against humanity are undoubtedly committed by police and paramilitary forces. Mwai Kibaki, through his Internal Security minister, has the sole command responsibility for the atrocities by the security forces.
These images, captured by an AP photographer shows harmless babies and other dead bodies of civilians in a Kenyan morgue last week. The other shows a group of armed police assaulting an unarmed civilian during the riots.
Interestingly, it remains the sole responsibility of the government of Kenya to investigate, arrest and institute charges against any other person who is found guilty of having committed any crimes against humanity, something they have completely failed to do, instead only selectively arresting disenfranchised ODM demonstrators on flimsy charges like arson, unlawful assembly, robbery with violence, etc etc. How dreadful considering the more than 1000 people dead and still counting.
It has not been lost to observers that residents of Mt. Elgon, Kuresoi, Molo and even in Mathare slums of Nairobi have not known peace for the entire period of Kibaki's first term and before ODM came into existence. Cases of beheadings and armed raiders were all too common in the Kenyan press for the period 2003-2007, culminating into a damning report by the KNCHR to the effect that up to 8000 civilians - mainly from Central Province - were killed by police in the year 2007 alone!
Meanwhile, this blogger is encouraged by President Kibaki's visit to Burnt Forest yesterday. The president and his entourage were escorted by more than eight land rovers full of armed GSU paramilitary personnel whom the residents have accused of harming them. One also hopes that those other Kenyan refugees camping at Jamhuri Park, Kisumu Airport and Malaba on Uganda side will not be forgotten during these presidential tours.