Given all the political heat generated around the Kenya cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC), it is easy to assume public support for ICC pursuing the cases is at best mixed. Not so, according to surveys released Wednesday.
The surveys show there is strong public support for the ICC process, that the public is confident the ICC will try suspected perpetrators and seeing justice done is more important for them than what ethnic group a suspect comes from. The public is also clear that the story should not end there. For justice and fairness to be seen to be done, the public also wants a process initiated to try the middle and low ranking perpetrators.
“This is the first time influential and powerful people are being held to account. Kenyans are generally supportive of the ICC process and are confident that prosecutions will take place because prosecution is the only remaining option to hold people accountable,” says South Consulting, the firm that published the surveys.
“To many of them, senior and influential people have a common interest in perpetuating impunity and opposing measures for accountability. The ICC process, therefore, provides an opportunity to fight impunity.”
In 46 out of Kenya’s 47 counties, 50 percent or more of the respondents are happy with the ICC investigating the suspected perpetrators. Only in one county, Bomet, do the people who are unhappy with the ICC cases outnumber those who are happy with them, 54-35.
The surveys, conducted in December 2010 and March 2011, echo others done by the private market research firms Synovate and Infotrak Harris since ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo named his six suspects in December last year, also showing strong public support for the ICC process.
The surveys released Wednesday form part of a quarterly report tracking the implementation of the political agreements that ended the post-December 2007 election violence. South Consulting, an independent research firm, prepares the report on behalf of the Kofi Annan-led mediation team to help them monitor the deals they steered.
The report does warn, however, that though respondents said security had improved since 2008 and they did not fear violence being reignited, the possibility of future conflict is not completely extinguished. For one, the report notes, politicians can still tap illegal militias to do their bidding. These groups have not been disbanded or disarmed despite there being a law prohibiting organized crime and the government banning 33 such groups when the law took effect in September 2010.
Whether the stability and calm state of Kenya, “is sustainable depends on how politicians organise campaigns for the next General Election and, specifically, whether or not their differences will not result to conflicts among them,” the report says. “This observation is made in recognition that national level political conflicts rapidly and violently trickle down to the local level. Secondly, the underlying factors that contributed to the post-2007 election crisis have not been systematically addressed.”
The complete report and its annexes can be downloaded from www.dialoguekenya.org.