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Legal news from Sunday, June 14, 2009

Kenya urged to prosecute those responsible for post-election violence
Ximena Marinero on June 14, 2009 10:46 AM ET

[JURIST] The Kenyan government must address impunity for human rights violations committed by police and security forces during the December 2007 post-election violence [JURIST report], Amnesty International [advocacy website] Secretary General Irene Khan [AI profile] urged [press release] Friday upon the conclusion of her visit to Kenya. Khan also said that Kenya must undertake reforms to ensure justice in the court systems, as well as reforms in the police and security sectors "to make [these] forces more effective and accountable." Khan's urgent recommendations also included making sure that the truth, justice, and reconciliation process does not become "a substitute for prosecution of individuals responsible for past human rights abuses," and that witnesses and human rights defenders are protected to ensure a meaningful, working justice system. During her visit, Khan met with Prime Minister Raila Odinga [BBC profile], Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and five senior members of the cabinet, and called for the government to rise to focus on building consensus rather than political division to accomplish reform.

On Thursday, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan [official website] told the BBC [BBC report] that Kenya has until the end of August to establish a tribunal [JURIST report] to try the leaders behind the 2007 post-election violence or he will be forced to give the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] a sealed list of key suspects for prosecution. Annan's announcement is the second extension granted to Kenya after the Kenyan Parliament rejected [press release; JURIST report] in February the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2009 [text, PDF] and the Special Tribunal for Kenya Bill, 2009 [text, PDF], which sought to establish a special tribunal for those purposes.

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