Former fiery Presbyterian cleric Rev Timothy Njoya has said that pulling Kenyan cases from the ICC to a court in Africa amounts to racism â€˜reloadedâ€™, where â€˜reloadedâ€™ is this writerâ€™s own construction.
Anyway, Njoya like his South African prelate ArchBishop Desmond Tutu and the Kisii Adventist Pastor Nichodemus Kebaso, unlike their other men of cloth, like Canon Peter Karanja, are of the opinion that President Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto be tried in a judicial system that cannot be â€˜tribalisedâ€™.
Njoya condemned the ongoing attempts by Kenyan politicians to pull the country out of the Rome Statute which anchors the ICC as a last court resort to barbaric crimes against humanity.
â€œWe have the psychology that Kenyatta and Ruto are being persecuted; that (the Rome Statute) is not our law; that the crimesâ€¦ are crimes about land.â€ Njoya wondered how the Kikuyus were fighting about land in the Rift Valley yet they do not belong there.
â€œThis is not something that can be tried by traditional law because traditional law did not have people going to occupy other peopleâ€™s land,â€ the Rev Njoya says. According to Njoya, the Uhuruto case reeks of a colonial past that can only be tried by a court which transcends the tribe â€“ or our tribal thinking.
â€œWe donâ€™t have laws in Kenya that can try Kenyans on a crime of that magnitude, â€ he added, giving examples of past trials of international nature.
â€œGermany had no law which could allow it to try Germans (after World War II) so Germans were not allowed to try Germans. More recently, Sudanâ€™s Al-Bashir and Sierra Leoneâ€™s Charles Taylor had to be referred to the ICC, same with Bosnian trials.
Similarly, Kenyans cannot be allowed to try Kenyans on crimes of such magnitude just as Rwandans were not allowed to handle 1994 genocide cases. â€œIf you try that, the Tutsis and Hutus will continue to fight,â€ said the cleric.
He said: â€œIf there is a court in Nairobi that convicts Ruto, we will fight â€” definitely â€” because people in Rift Valley will see (the judgment) as (emanating from) a Kikuyu law. They will never see it as a neutral arbiter.â€
Therefore, â€œthere must be a place for a law that transcends the conflicting parties.â€
And what about getting the accused tried in an African country, say Tanzania?
â€œThatâ€™s racism. We cannot hate white racism and when it comes to us being judged, we say we cannot be tried in a white place.â€
Moreover, it would devolve tribalism in that it would not end at bringing cases to Africa, Dr Njoya said.
â€œWhen you come to Kenya, you will demand â€˜kamwanaâ€™. Our person should try us; and once you come to Central, you will say he (the judge) is not from Nyeri, he is from Kiambu. And once you get one from Mathira (in Nyeri), you will demand one from Mukurwe-ini. You will never end making excuses.
â€œLet me confess; I cannot try Ruto because I am a Kikuyu. And since I am exempted from trying him, it will be discrimination to deny me to try him and allow another tribe. The best way is to look for a neutral arbiter. God is our arbiter. And God is in The Hague at the moment.â€
Njoyaâ€™s take on the ICC contradicts the recent pull by a section of protestant churches who called on the ICC and the UN to halt the Kenyan cases and refer them back to Kenya.
Also, the call is opposed to the AU which has demanded that Uhuru be allowed to govern until his term ends in office before the cases can resume, an outrageous call which completely ignores the suffering of victims of the 2007/08 post election violence and centrally anchors impunity in Kenya.