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January 21, 2019

World must also back Kenya's war on terrorism

The despicable attacks on innocent Parisians by terrorists last week that left well over 100 dead horrified people globally. They also left one impression; things will change.

This change will range from simple perception; just because a country suffers such an attack does not qualify it to be called a hotbed of terror, it can happen anywhere, to fundamental change in behaviour, and the vetting and barring of refugees from getting to Europe.

Reaction to the French attacks has been fast and furious. Bombing campaigns are underway in an already bomb weary Syria.

It is not known whether these bombs are killing terrorists or innocent people. Right now that is not a consideration, France is taking its revenge.

Never mind that the Fourth Geneva Convention, relating to the protection of civilians in times of war, bars such indiscriminate attacks on populations thought to also include enemy combatants.

France is not the only one. Syria is a bomb fest. Russia is also there and so are other countries.

The treatment of refugees fleeing the bombing in Syria has also taken an interesting turn.

Initially, countries agonized over who would take how many refugees an issue the European Union is yet to agree on.

Currently there are calls ranging from thorough vetting of refugees to outright refusal of entry.

All this, puts some of the issues Kenya is going through into sharp relief.

Right now, a large Kenyan government delegation is attending the Assembly of State Parties meeting at The Hague where it seeks to amend a rule that allows for the International Criminal Court prosecutor to use evidence recanted by witnesses against Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto.

While it may be seen as the course of justice, in perspective it is laughable that so much of the country’s and the court’s resources are being used on such a matter when atrocities are raging in the Middle East and where there is no shortage of war criminals to be hauled before the court.

It also raise questions as to the army of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and local and international civil society types camped at the ASP meeting ostensibly to lobby against lifting of the said rule which is codified as Article 68 of the Rome Statute.

This is the international agreement that established the International Criminal Court.

These groups perhaps should be camped in and around Syria protesting the daily carpet bombing of civilian populations if indeed it is human rights that engage their conscience.

However, we have heard no such complaints. Neither have we heard of petitions to the United Nations to call upon Western countries to cease the bombing and seek alternative solutions.

Just like we did not hear of international calls to stand with Kenya or Nigeria or Syria where civilians have been murdered in numbers by terrorists until it happened in France.

The point is, there needs to be standard rules when it comes to dealing with such matters or each nation must be left to its own devices.

But the equal and human rights charade championed by Western countries on African nations must cease until they themselves can demonstrate that they are able to observe similar restraints when they operate in other countries such as Syria.

Kenya has suffered numerous such attacks. Time and time again, the fear of these so-called human rights watchers has prevented government from taking the action it feels is appropriate to put an end to the madness.

The Kenyan government proposed the repatriation of Somali refugees from Dadaab camp. This was met with furious resistance by UN bodies who quickly cited the non-refoulement principle.

This is a rule barring the repatriation of refugees to where they face persecution.

But as waves of refugees head for Europe, such non-refoulement arguments have been quickly forgotten.

Now, the safety of the citizens of Europe takes priority and few want to know if Syrian refugees would face persecution if sent back home or not.

The bottom line is, you have to walk in someone’s shoes to feel the pinch.

Generic cut and paste rules cannot be applied forcefully to each country without understanding its particular needs.

Every time Kenya has tried to deal with its own refugee and terrorist concerns, self-righteous voices have emerged warning about the violation of human rights.

It would be good if these same voices would give us a break and head to Europe to preach the same gospel.

Tell the Europeans that despite having beeen attacked, they should remember that they have human rights to uphold.

They should also ask the ICC to rechannel its resources to more worthy causes such as going after war criminals in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.

As for the Kenyan government, it is time to borrow a leaf from the French, and act decisively without fear of persecution to root out criminals, terrorists and rustlers from our midst.


Mbugua is a communications consultant and comments on topical issues.

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