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Quincy Timberlake: Who Will Defend Kenyans Should the ICC Fail Us?

     PlaCenta Party of Kenya's presidential candidate Quincy Timberlake has expressed sympathy to Kenyans for electing ICC indicted leaders. He has labelled the leaders as selfish, having pretended to stay calm during the period between 2010 and 2013 to achieve their presidency goals. Once in power, they used the presidency to shield themselves from their personal problems with the ICC. He warned that if Kenyans weren't watchful, these leaders and their cronies would use their powerful offices to perpetuate impunity. He expressed shock at the AU for using an important event like Addis Ababa conference to allow President Kenyatta to discuss his personal woes with the ICC and not the welfare of Kenyans. Timberlake said he had expected Kenyatta to use that conference to lure regional military forces to help combat the Al Shabaab and other militias in the Horn of Africa.

Kenyan leaders behind the move to extract the country from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are effectively seeking a licence to kill, maim and oppress its people without consequences. Leaders should not allow their personal ambitions to get in the way of the interests of the people. Being held to account interferes with their ability to act with impunity. Those who get in their way -- their victims -- would stay faceless and voiceless. Timberlake is one of those victims of cruelty.

They are arguing that the golden rule of reciprocity -- do to others as you would expect them do to you -- should not apply to them. And nor should any legal system. But they know that they cannot say these things in public, so they say that the ICC is segregationist.

Kenya has suffered the consequences of unaccountable leaders for too long to allow itself to be hoodwinked in this way. When thousands of young opponents and men in the mid ages are murdered and displaced in any region, one would hope in the first instance that its own systems of justice and fairness would kick in to right the wrongs. But when Kenya is unwilling or unable to restore justice, who should represent the interests of the victims? Those behind the call to extract Africa from the ICC say: Nobody.

The ICC was established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The Rome Statute that established the court provided victims with the opportunity to have their voices heard and to get, where right, reparation for their suffering.

The roll call of Kenyan leaders being summoned by the ICC to face justice is growing. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was arrested and prosecuted for the atrocities he committed against the humanity. He is now rotting in a UK jail for 50 years. President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been charged with crimes against humanity in Darfur, and now President Kenyatta [Unlink] and Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya face similar charges for brutal violence against their own people following their election to office.

Those accused of crimes proclaim their innocence and vilify the institution as racist and unjust, as Hermann Gring and his comrades vilified the Nuremberg Court that put Nazi leaders on trial following World War II. Worst is that at the AU Summit, Kenya attempted to lead the continent in pulling Africa out of the ICC. This could be a grave blow to the rule of law and the memories of the millions of people who have suffered in the refugee camps of Darfur, Post Election Violence and the villages of Congo and Ivory Coast.

Right now, thousands of people from across the planet are joining a campaign hosted by Avaaz, an international advocacy organisation, calling on Africa's leaders to stay in the ICC and stand behind international justice and what it means for so many vulnerable citizens everywhere. They represent our global commitment to working together to make the future brighter and safer for the next generations. The eight matters brought before the ICC were without exception initiated by African countries and their leaders. There was no witch-hunt or imposition, the judges and investigators were invited in.

So while the rhetoric of leaders at the AU may play both the race and colonial cards, the facts are clear. Far from being a so-called "white man's witch hunt", the ICC could not be more African if it tried. 20 African countries helped to found the ICC. Of 108 nations that initially joined it, 30 are in Africa. Five of the court's 18 judges are African, as is the vice-president of the court. The chief prosecutor of the court, who has huge power over which cases are brought forward, is from Africa. The ICC is, quite literally, Africa's court.

Leaving the ICC would be a tragedy for Africa for following clear reasons:-

(i) without justice, countries can attack their neighbours or minorities in their own countries with impunity. Two years ago, when the warlord Thomas Lubunga was arrested to face charges of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers, the threat of the ICC undermined his support from other militia.

(ii) since Laurent Gbagbo [Unlink] was taken to face justice in The Hague, the country has been able to rebuild. Human Rights Watch reported that national radio and television stations switched messages of hatred to appeals for restraint when the ICC threatened to intervene.

(ii) without this court, there would be no break on the worst excesses of world leaders. And these violent leaders continue to plague Africa: the Great Lakes, Mali, northern Nigeria and Egypt all give reason for concern.

(iv) without justice there can be no peace. In South Africa, the scars of apartheid are still deep and painful and it has taken a long process of truth and reconciliation for these wounds to begin to heal. Timberlake is calling for ICC's full investigations in to South Africa's Marikana killings of the 34 miners.

(v) in Kenya, the rioting and killing across the Rift Valley will take a long time to resolve, with communities pitted against each other. Put simply, where justice and order is not restored there can be no healing, leaving violence ticking like a bomb. Timberlake warned of another violence last year that could happen under Jubilee government due to insecurity and famine. ICC cases could trigger such violence too.

(vi) as Africa finds its voice in world affairs, it should be strengthening justice and the rule of law, not undermining it.

(vii) the alternatives are too painful: revenge, like what happened in Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia; or blanket amnesty, a national commitment to amnesia like what happened in Chile. The only way any country can deal with its past is to face it.

We need loud voices at the AU to deliver the message of the world's people, to shout down those that want us to do nothing. At the front we need the heavyweight champions of Africa -- SA and Nigeria -- to exercise their leadership and stop those who don't like the rules from attempting to rewrite them. If Africa's democracies truly believe in justice and the rule of law, they must stand up against this attempt by their least democratic brothers and sisters to undermine those values. Today's meeting is a contest between justice and brutal violence. Far from a fight between Africa and the West, this is a fight within Africa, for the soul of the continent. May righteous Africans raise their voices and affirm the ICC and the rule of law. Timberlake is a young political activist turned politician who has faced up raw war with the country's mighty and rich in political battles ending up at the floor of parliament at the expense of taxpayers. He was brutalised for his stand against the government's unexplained extra-judicial killings and toxic impunity with Kenyan media playing a leading role on behalf of those detractors to have him impaled. He survived several death traps including the famous donkey spot at Nakuru early in the morning back in April of 2010 where a plot to have him assassinated was subdued. For years, he warned that Kenya was on the brink of falling and failing as a State because Kenyans themselves were responsible for appointing those disappointing leaders who turned up as laughing-stock at the World arena.

Timberlake has since then been declared persona non grata and warned never to step on Kenyan soil again or he faces his uncertain future should he land on the country's ports of entry.

Until recently Kenya was among the most stable countries in Africa. Gradually, bad governance, toxic graft, impunity, extra-judicial killings and the clamp down on political dissent placed it on a wrong map. Soon, post election violence took place changing the country's history. MPs greed and obsession with power weakened the loyalty of security agencies leading some disgruntled officers and unemployed youth to get recruited into the Al-Shabaab terrorist group. With the Westgate Mall terror attacks which saw soldiers looting rampantly, Kenya is headed to a great downfall.

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Quincy Timberlake is the President of the PlaCenta Party of Kenya.He is currently publishing his autobiography,The Corona Ejection, in which he outlines the events and people who have shaped his values and beliefs.He is also working on his book Kenyapocalypse to be published in Australia.For more information

Posted on 2013-11-09, By: *

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