Kenya should consider embracing uniquely African solutions to stem the culture of impunity that characterized the disputed presidential elections in which lives and property were lost.
This consideration is reinforced by the fact that, as we move towards integration, the culture of impunity should not be tolerated within the entire EAC.
Rwanda showed that impunity had to be dealt with by using a homegrown solution, Gacaca, which was developed for the purposes of doing what the Western approach to justice couldn’t handle.
The authorities were firm that perpetrators, of whatever category, had to be brought to book whatever the circumstances.
In this case a classical Western approach was not deemed to be capable of delivering the kind of justice the post- Genocide society Rwanda needed. It would have taken hundreds and hundreds of years to have the trials conducted in the classical manner. Rwandans took a new route- an African route.
This is the route Kenyans seem to be ignoring. By saying that justice will be done through the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the normal courts, certain critical issues will certainly be left hanging.
What will happen to community participation in the mending of torn relationships among the aggrieved parties? The routes chosen by Kenyan authorities’ means that those held responsible will be separated from the aggrieved.
When will the affected Kenyan masses in their millions get a chance to, at community level, reconcile? How about the very bottom category of suspects? How can they be brought to book? There are several other issues that I cannot list in this piece.
Kenyans ought to look at Rwanda for invaluable lessons.
Rwanda can readily transfer the knowledge of the Gacaca system to Kenya.
This comes within the backdrop of warming of relations between Rwanda and Kenya. Several initiatives have been developed by both countries. Recently we witnessed the signing of an extradition treaty between the two countries.
If this is done then the EAC will most probably be seen as a uniquely different regional bloc. Recently it moved to look at ways and means of fostering sustainable peace and security in which a stand-by force set to be uniquely East African was mooted.
This is what the EAC needs to do for the purposes of developing unique approaches to justice within the EAC. Gacaca offers one such way.
The author is a journalist with The New Times