By Captain Collins Wanderi
“In 1998, I was working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees branch office in Nairobi as an assistant protection officer.
At the time, we were screening asylum-seekers from Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Uganda, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea to determine if they deserved protection as refugees under the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1969 OAU Convention.
Asylum-seekers from Somalia and South Sudan automatically qualified.
The complex cases were from Ethiopia and Rwanda, where serious atrocities had preceded the violent change of governments, and it was not easy distinguishing victims from the perpetrators of the crimes.
The UN had, in November 1994, established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha to try the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda between January and December 1994.
In 1999, the UNHCR, in conjunction with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), launched the Great Lakes Operation (GLO) in Nairobi and hired eligibility officers whose task was, inter alia, to register urban refugees, their families and minors as well as conduct interviews to document their plight.
For the Rwandans, the eligibility officers were also required to identify any direct perpetrators, accomplices, financiers and potential witnesses of the genocide and crimes against humanity that had occurred between January and December 1999.
The Registrar of the ICTR at Arusha and his staff visited Nairobi to explain to the eligibility officers what exactly they were required to do if they positively identified suspects and potential witnesses of genocide and other crimes.
They explained that although the ICTR had strict timelines within which to end their investigations and try the suspects, these could be extended depending on how much information we gathered and the evidential accounts we documented.
WE GOT THE MESSAGE
During a break, one staffer told us (jokingly) that we should collect as much information as possible; document every account with some sort of â€œevidenceâ€ and not â€œrushâ€ the process because any rush would lead to loss of prestigious jobs and hefty perks from the UN!
We got the message.
To many ICTR staff in Arusha, the tribunal was not just about justice, but about jobs and salaries.
GLO officers documented credible horrendous accounts from the victims of the genocide and identities, locations and family relations of some perpetrators, but the registrarâ€™s office never acted on them.
The tribunal has failed to meet its 2008 and 2012 deadlines; it has completed only 50 trials with 29 convictions, still has 11 on-going trials and 14 pending trials.
The UN has set a new December 31, 2014 deadline but you can bet it wonâ€™t be met either. All because of money!
UNABLE TO PROGRESS
Currently, the International Criminal Court is seized of two cases from Kenya.
The Office of the Prosecutor has frequently admitted that they do not have enough evidence to commence the trial against President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In the case against Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Joshua arap Sang, the OTP is unable to progress since some witnesses have withdrawn and admitted having lied to the court.
These witnesses and evidence were procured through intermediaries. But the OTP and the judges do not want to end the circus and focus on the more serious situations in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The whole charade clearly portrays the ICC as a political, neo-colonial and racist court that is only fit to try Africans.
The OTP, the Office of the Registrar and judges know that if they bring the two Kenyan cases to a close, they will become jobless!
So, it does not matter whether there is evidence against President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto; the cases will be kept pending for as long as possible.
That is international â€œjusticeâ€ for you.
Capt Wanderi is an advocate, and chair of the Kenya Institute of Forensic Auditors.
Twitter: @DeCaptainCFE “