Tread carefully on political violence

Thursday, November 26th, 2020 00:00 |
DCI boss George Kinoti. Photo/PD/FILE

Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti on Monday announced that he would reopen investigations into the 2008/7 post-election violence cases. 

According to Kinoti, the move was occasioned by complaints from some victims, who claimed to have been threatened by individuals known to them.

Some of them were said to be relatives of victims of the horrific Kiambaa church killings of January 1, 2008. 

The burning to death of 30 villagers, who had sought refuge in the church, was one of the sobering moments of the clashes and which attracted world attention to the violence.

About 1,130 people were killed and 650, 000 displaced from their homes in the chaos.

Key politicians were charged at the International Criminal Court in connection with the violence.

Deputy President William Ruto was accused of playing a key role in creating and directing the group that attacked the church. 

Ruto, whose case collapsed for what the prosecutor termed as intimidation of witnesses, denied the charges and described the charges as a witch-hunt. Nearly 1,600 cases relating to the violence were filed but most of them collapsed.

It would be remembered that former Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko had set up a task force in February 2012, to assess about 5,000 criminal cases stemming from the chaos. The team concluded that there was no evidence to prosecute bulk of the cases.  

There’s no argument that victims of the post-election violence deserve justice. Their wounds are yet to heal while the scars they bear remain a painful reminder of one of the darkest moments in Kenya’s history.

While we welcome any genuine efforts to deliver justice for the victims, we strongly caution that the matter, must be handled carefully to prevent reopening of old wounds and stirring up emotions of the affected families.

The country remains fragile and any political overtones out of the investigations could be detrimental to national cohesion and stability. Then there is the question of timing; the country is not only sagging under effects of a pandemic but is also currently engaged in a conversation that leaders think could help address grievances that led to the 2007/8 violence.

Also, the country is heading to another potentially competitive election. The ghosts of the 2007/8 violence should not be stirred up to the country’s detriment.

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