UN rights commissioner urges Kenya to investigate 2007 post-election violence News
UN rights commissioner urges Kenya to investigate 2007 post-election violence
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[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] on Tuesday renewed calls for Kenya to establish a special tribunal [statement] to investigate crimes committed following the 2007 presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. Pillay called the investigation into the deadly violence [JURIST report] by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] a "major development." She warned, however, that the ICC's role would be limited to a handful of high-profile cases, which is why the need for a more wide-reaching investigation remains. Pillay also praised the ongoing efforts to reform the Kenyan constitution [JURIST report], but cautioned that the creation of a new constitution is only the first step toward reform. She noted that reform must include all levels of government, including the judiciary and law enforcement, and she called on all Kenyans to take responsibility for the reform, stating:

The difficulties facing Kenya are serious, but definitely not insurmountable, as the country enters this critical period encompassing the referendum on a new Constitution, widespread reforms, and the 2012 election. I urge everyone – politicians, religious figures, media, ethnic leaders as well as the general public – to think about what is best for Kenya, what gives Kenya the best chance to come out of this tense and difficult period of its history with its head held high. This is not a time for self-interest, for strategies that appeal to narrow constituencies, not a time to put personal ambition and finances before the good of the country. It is the moment to take the necessary steps to build solid legal foundations, reform malfunctioning institutions, and impose accountability.

Pillay indicated that she had discussed the possibility of a special tribunal with members of the Kenyan government and that she was assured "the option is still open."

The allegations of fraud [JURIST report] following the 2007 elections led to violence that caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people and displacement of 500,000 others, and remains a concern in the international community. The ICC initiated a formal investigation into the violence after Kenya failed to conduct [JURIST report] its own investigation. ICC prosecutors have named 20 senior political and business leaders [JURIST report] whom they say allegedly "bear the gravest responsibility" for the post-election violence. The ICC's decision to authorize the prosecutor's investigation means that Kenyan leaders may be called before the court