Kenya/NPWJ: political negotiations must not reward violence. Impunity is not an option for crimes under international law

15 Feb, 2008 | Press Releases

Large scale human rights violations and violations of international criminal law committed during the post-election period in Kenya have resulted in the death of more than 1,000 people, the displacement of about half a million people and a critical humanitarian situation. As negotiations to reach a settlement to the current situation continue, mediated by Kofi Annan in Nairobi, No Peace Without Justice calls for all Kenyan parties and for the international community to declare unambiguously that there can be no amnesties for these types of violations and that accountability must be part of any political settlement. Any agreement based on impunity is an invitation to more violence, opening a spiral of continued and recurring horrors that may otherwise be averted.

No Peace Without Justice, which has provided similar conflict-mapping expertise in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, is currently assisting the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) – an independent National Human Rights Institution established by an Act of Parliament in 2002 – in the documentation and investigations into the post-election violence. The objective of the investigations is to determine which elements of the violence were pre-planned and which may have been spontaneous, what crimes under international law may have been committed and who bears the greatest responsibility for inciting, planning, funding and directing the violations. The investigations being conducted by the KNCHR and NPWJ – whose initial results are expected to be made public towards the end of March – will establish the basis for seeking national criminal prosecutions or action by other national or international accountability mechanisms.

Declaration by Sergio Stanzani, President of No Peace Without Justice:

“We fully support and underscore the KNCHR’s call for accountability. We hope and anticipate that the work currently being undertaken by the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights together with NPWJ, investigating and documenting the violence, will be the foundation for the work of any accountability mechanism that is determined to play its part in the restoration of peace through justice and truth.
“In the context of the ongoing negotiations, mediated by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, between President Mwai Kibaki’s governing party and the opposition of Raila Odinga aimed at settling an agreement on the outstanding political issues, the international community must strongly support the KNCHR’s work to restore the rule of law and to ensure the widest possible accountability for the crimes committed in the prolonged period of violence that followed the 2007 general elections.
“NPWJ also welcomes the fact-finding mission by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and calls on the UN OHCHR to ensure its work reinforces and complements the work already being undertaken by KNCHR.
“While we support the accountability work and discussions already ongoing, NPWJ cautions that current calls for “reconciliation” may be exploited as a tool to encourage further violence, as they are presented as assurances of impunity. NPWJ calls on all parties to make it clear that impunity is not an option for crimes under international law or for serious violations of human rights and insists that any mechanism established to deal with the violence not be used as a shield from prosecution for those who bear the greatest responsibility for the violations committed in Kenya.”

For more information please contact Alison Smith, phone: +254-736 748 977 (in Kenya) – email: