Right to Kenya

Right to Kenya

Two mysterious American lawyers are in The Netherlands trying to stop the international trial of Kenyans accused of genocide in the December, 2007 election.

This is an affront to justice and Kenyan society, and there are links to these men with the rightist neo-cons of the former administration. Which makes it even more of an affront to Kenyan’s earnest attempt to move on from that horrible time.

Prof. Max Hilaire and self-proclaimed lawer, William Cohn, appeared before the international court at The Hague expressly to forestall or terminate the Court’s procedures against ten Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity during the turbulence that followed the December, 2007, election.

Kenyans are shocked.

“Kenyans are seeking an end to impunity and to ensure accountability and justice for the over 1,000 Kenyans who lost their lives, the over 300,000 IDPs who lost their homes and the over 5,000 women who were sexually assaulted,” read a statement signed by prominent Nairobi lawyer, Naomi Wagereka.

Wagereka cited recent polls in Kenya indicating that a large majority of Kenyans want the perpetrators of the post election violence tried at the Court in the Hague.

The trial of the accused moved out of Kenya to The Hague when the Kenyan Government was unable to come to terms defining the trial, as was agreed in the political deal that ended the violence in February, 2008.

In that agreement, a time limit was set for the Kenyan Government to create something akin to South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission to deal with the perpetrators of that violence. The limit was extended several times before the government conceded that the trial should go to the Hague.

The vast majority of Kenyans, and now a consensus among government leaders, were therefore stunned by the news that two unknown Americans were trying to stop the procedings.

The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo dismissed the American’s actions as “unfounded”. He told Nairobi’s Standard newspaper that the Americans were simply delaying the procedings.

The two Americans’ brief argues that Kenya’s case does not meet the Court’s threshold of crimes against humanity, and that it is ‘overstretched’ and ‘exaggerated’.

Hilaire is associated with a number of right-wing organizations, particularly the Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, which is often used by Fox News for commentary on defense issues.

He has authored several books, with recurrent themes that criticize the formation of the ICC and challenging the authority of a number of institutions, including the United Nations.

His sidekick, William Cohn, has been repeatedly reported by news sources as reputable as Agence France Presse as a “lawyer from California” but he is not listed with the California Bar Association. Little is known about him.

“One wonders whose interests are these American professors serving,” Kenyan lawyer Wagereka asked local journalists several days ago.