July 16, 2014
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July 15, 2014
The amendment creates an exceptionalism only enjoyed by African leaders. It shields them and their cronies from accountability. This obnoxious law must be challenged by all persons of good will.
The rights of leaders are always tempered and balanced by their duty and obligation to protect the rights of citizens. All acts of a leader must be carried out within agreed legal frameworks.
This decision by the AU leaders is gross abuse of power and a dereliction of duty. ICC’s difficulties in prosecuting Heads of State do not translate into extending immunity to all African leaders.
On Friday, 4 July 2014, the African Union (AU) amended the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to provide for blanket immunity from prosecution for African leaders and their ‘senior government officials’.
The language of the amended Protocol is clear and succinct: “No charges shall be commenced or continued before the court against any serving African Union Heads of State or Government, or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity, or other senior state officials based on their functions, during their tenure of office.”
The language of the Protocol protects a broad range of perpetrators. It extends unfettered immunity from criminal prosecution in any jurisdiction in Africa. The amendment also creates an “exceptionalism” that is enjoyed only by African leaders. It shields the leaders and their cronies from accountability. This obnoxious law must be challenged by all persons of good will.
It is regrettable that other democratic states in Africa, such as South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana and Senegal did not stand shoulder to shoulder with Botswana to oppose this antiquated law.
Instead, they allowed themselves to join the ranks of unsavoury dictatorship like Egypt, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); other failing states such as Somalia, Mali, Libya, Niger, Central African Republic (CAR); and ungovernable states like Nigeria whose writ does not cover northern Nigeria, thanks to Boko Haram. These undemocratic states have ceased to represent the interests of their people or to act on their behalf.
In democratic countries, the lines between the citizens and the state are based on recognition of a citizen’s individual rights which is then framed in terms of what the state needs to do to protect those rights. The state, through its leadership, neither murders its citizens, nor gets away with it subsequently.
The rights of leaders are always tempered and balanced by their duty and obligation to protect the rights of its people. All acts of a leader must be carried out within agreed legal framework. Leaders who fail to follow the law must be accountable for their actions before courts of law. The Protocol adopted by the African leaders on 4 July, turned this basic legal principle on its head.
The new ‘impunity law’ ignores Africa’s history of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s when military dictatorships and one-party state’s governments brutalized their citizens without any form of accountability. Some of these ‘criminal’ leaders of the 70s, 80s, and 90s are still in power today and were instrumental in the adoption of the ‘impunity law’.
More recently, between 2000 and 2014, more than 6 million civilians were murdered in the DRC by its government and the governments of neighbouring states after invading the DRC; in South Sudan, troops from neighbouring states have joined the blood-letting. It is some of these criminal acts that are the forces behind the ‘impunity law’.
Africa cannot close its eyes and hide behind the facts that Bush and Blair have not been prosecuted and therefore African leaders should not be prosecuted. Charity begins at home, and it is important that Africa puts its house in order before it begins finger pointing at leaders of foreign nations.
After all, African leaders pride themselves of “African solutions to African problems”. Well, Bush and Blair are not Africa’s problem; leave them to the ICC to handle. On the other hand, African leaders are Africa’s problems and the African Court must handle them. That sounds fair, doesn’t it?
There are more serious and pressing problems for the AU to address. Nigeria, the biggest economy in Africa and the most populous state on the continent, with excellent record of peace keeping, cannot protect its own children from Boko Haram militia; Libya, a wealthy nation, cannot protect its sovereignty as militias divide the country; Egypt, a country with a rich history, is busy murdering its own people; and CAR is heading towards genocide while South Sudan is falling apart through political and tribal vendettas.
Instead of seeking solutions to these, and other grave issues, African leaders are more concerned with protecting themselves from criminal prosecutions.
Any good student of history easily recognizes that mere existence of immunity clauses in any legal framework, regardless of how it is used, is itself sufficient to create conditions under which impunity flourishes. A citizenry that is always abused by those in authority, eventually becomes used to the idea of abuse, develops a compliant mode and fearful, and even possibly an accomplice to his/her degradation and humiliation.
Impunity unites governments of otherwise remarkably divergent political creed: from Cairo to Kampala; Bangui to Harare, these governments share one thing in common – terrorizing the civilian population without accountability. Besides Botswana, the lone sane voice at the AU summit, all states whose constitutions’ guarantee individual human rights and free access to court, ganged up to grant to themselves and their cronies immunity from prosecution for atrocity crimes.
The ability for an ordinary citizen to murder a person and get away with it is already bad enough, particularly when police investigators need to be bribed before they can perform their official duties.
For Heads of State or Government to give themselves a right to murder hundreds or thousands of people, without any form of accountability, vests immense power in these leaders who, whether properly elected, rigged elections or gained power through armed rebellion, have no right to pass such a law without the consent of the people.
The representatives of victims, NGOs and human rights organizations were denied access and the right to participate in deliberations leading to the adoption of the ‘impunity clause’. This is particularly distressing seeing that one of the objectives of the Constitutive Act of the AU, as stipulated in Article 3(h), is dedicated to “promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.”
With the recent adoption of the ‘impunity clause’ to protect heads of state and government from prosecution, this makes the provision hollow and a mockery of justice.
Overall, the decision by the AU leaders granting themselves immunity from prosecution is gross abuse of power and a dereliction of duty. I know from my years of experience in the conduct of international criminal prosecution that the AU’s ‘impunity clause’ can be viewed by some analysts and critics as an abstraction, one that is difficult to get people to care about viscerally.
What is more, the issue of international criminal prosecution is invariably complex, making it even harder to engage the public in a widespread and positive way because of the experiences of the challenges encountered by the ICC in prosecuting past and present Heads of State and Governments. But what is pertinent is to separate the issues that undermines the good work of the ICC from justification being peddled around to demonise not only the ICC but international criminal justice wholesale.
The fact that the ICC has encountered difficulties in prosecuting Heads of State does not translate into extending immunity to all African leaders.
By Alex Obote-Odora, Consultant in International Criminal Law and Policy, Stockholm.
July 12, 2014
The late Vinnie Atieno, whose real names were Vincencis Atieno, was secretly buried in a cemetery in the city of Malmö, Sweden on Tuesday, 8th July 2014. The secret burial came after Vinnie’s sister stripped naked last Friday and stopped the burial on grounds that family members were not involved in the funeral arrangements. Although it is not clear who ordered the burial, it is unlikely that it could have taken place without the conniving of either of Vinnie’s two former boyfriends who are also the fathers of Vinnie’s two children.
As the burial was taking place, Vinnie’s mother in Kisumu, Kenya, was raising the alarm through the Kenyan media to the effect that she was in the dark as far as both the death and funeral arrangements are concerned. Speaking to the East African Standard, Jactone Obong’o and his wife, Scolastica Adhiambo, said that they had been preparing to travel to Sweden to get involved in their daughter’s funeral arrangements when everything went dead. Vinnie’s sister who travelled from Germany to intervene could not be reached by the family by the time they raised the alarm while everybody who was apparently involved in the funeral arrangements in Malmö could not suddenly be reached.
According to reports reaching KSB from different sources in Malmö, Kenyans in Malmö congregated at Vinnie’s house following her death where a decision was taken that her parents would travel to Sweden for purposes of funeral arrangements. At one of these meetings, it is known that the father of Vinnie’s eldest child was present while it is also known that some money was raised towards transport costs of Vinnie’s parents. What is unknown is how after this meeting (whose agenda was to transport Vinnie’s parents to Sweden), someone fixed Vinnie’s burial for Friday last week before her parents could arrive in Sweden.
Another hanging issue is the whereabouts of cash that had been raised towards transport of Vinnie’s parents. According to a source, attempts by Vinnie’s sister (who attended the fund raising meeting) to get custody of the funds was quashed by a Committee because “she did not look like she could take care of the funds”. Further the amount that was raised could also not be established and now with her secret burial in Malmö, the mystery surrounding her death and hurried up burial has simply deepened.
At the funeral, KSB has established that there were only eight people, 4 Kenyans and four Swedes. One of the Swedes is known to have been the father of Vinnie’s child and the question which arises is whether he could have ordered the burial using his child as an excuse to take over the burial process. This is because in Sweden (just like in many countries), only a next of kin can order a burial. In the case of Vinnie, the most credible next of kin who was on the ground in Malmö was Vinnie’s blood sister who had already stopped the burial so how could she have been buried secretly barely three days after the funeral was stopped? Who were the four Kenyans who attended the secret burial and where did Vinnie’s sister vanish especially after she stopped the burial last Friday?
After the burial was stopped by Vinnie’s sister, the funeral Agency knew and understood that there were key issues that needed to be resolved especially the participation of Vinnie’s family in all funeral arrangements so how did they go ahead with the burial even when Vinnie’s parents were raising the alarm in Kenya?
Last Friday, Vinnie’s burial is known to have been attended by many Kenyans in Malmö. Where are they and how could these Kenyans have allowed Vinnie’s funeral to proceed without the participation of members of her family and after they knew and understood the problems that stood in the way. These are fundamental questions that need to be answered. Regardless of the burial, Vinnie’s parents need to travel to Sweden to sort out this matter because the secret burial has denied them the right to pay their last respects to their departed daughter. What has happened in the case of Vinnie cannot happen in any civilized society. In summary, who decided that Vinnie should be buried in Sweden? Kenyans in Malmö must come together to help Vinnie’s family resolve the issue even though she has been buried. It is not the end of the story because a body can be exhumed. The matter is even more painful when the post mortem report detailing the real cause of Vinie’s death has not been released.
Something does not simply add up. A Kenyan dies mysteriously in Malmö, the children are taken over without participation of the Kenyan’s family members, the post mortem report is withheld by the Swedish authorities, a funeral is hastily arranged by unknown people, the funeral is then stopped by the Kenyan’s sister who had to strip naked to stop the process then a secret funeral attended by eight people is then hastily arranged without family consultation before the body is quickly buried when the parents are raising the alarm and complaining about exclusion from everything. This case should not be allowed to set a precedent because today it’s Vinnie and tomorrow it might as well be your family going through a similar agony in this wilderness called Sweden.
July 12, 2014
I must address a subject that I have feared and is long overdue. One that is touchy! My purpose in writing this letter is to tell parents out there what kind of damage they do to their children KNOWINGLY or UNKNOWINGLY when they mistreat their child’s spouse and children. And what kind of damage it does to their relationship with their child and their grandchildren. I do this in the hope that I can prevent this damage from being done to someone else. It is too late for our family.
You want only the best for your children. You want them to grow into adults who are capable of making choices for themselves. This means you need to let them make those choices. This includes whom they fall in love with and decide to marry. Life is a learning experience. If they fail at something, then they will learn a lesson from that experience! You cannot shelter them and expect them to grow at the same time.
Sometimes the choices they make are not the same ones you would choose for them. They are not supposed to be your choices and you need to wish them happiness and be emotionally supportive of them. That means you do not interfere. You do not instigate, you do not demean the spouse, you do not pass right by that child’s house and go onto another child’s–play favorite’s.
You give your love and you let the chips fall where they may. The danger is; nowadays should parents force daughters/sons to marry persons against their wishes..they’ll marry to please both their parents, society and church. But in turn, out of wedlock misconducts begin. Because it leads the victims jump off their parents’ chosen spouses cages onto hot frying pans of the people their hearts will chemically vie for. That’s why there’s too much sin even inside the church giving birth to death – AIDS and stone cold souls.
If your child and their spouse love each other and are happy with their relationship and their life together, do not try and find things wrong that just are not there! Be happy for them! It is okay to be wrong! So you never thought you would like the spouse, you never thought they would change into a person you could like! That does not matter, your child is happy and you may be blinded by something you should have let go of a long time ago!
If we daughters are so bad, then why are so many of us silent sufferers at the hands of our parents/parents in-laws? Why do we take the hits that keep on coming? It is because we love those children of others that we bring in your folds…..in laws.Parents can sometimes force pressure on to their children. A relationship that was supposed to be enjoyable lacks that time to enjoy their youth and turn their united fists in to fighting tools against the hard hitting parents.
Challenging relationships can offer some of our most powerful growth opportunities. We shouldn’t end relationships lightly at the pleasure of parents or parents’ in-law, even when they prove difficult, especially because, as we shall see, we must ultimately, at some level, engage with the defense mechanisms most prevalent in our environment. But when we have strongly considered all of our options, applied optimally effective strategies, and still determined that the relationship is highly unlikely to become a healthier one, it is then reasonable to remove ourselves from the situation.
My mothers and fathers out there, if your child and their spouse love each other and are happy with their relationship and their life together, do not try and find things wrong that just are not there! Be happy for them! It is okay to be wrong! So you never thought you would like the spouse, you never thought they would change into a person you could like! That does not matter, your child is happy and you may be blinded by something you should have let go of a long time ago!
Do not treat the children of your child’s that you don’t like the spouse of differently than that of your other children’s kid’s. Big hint–The kids who are treated differently know! And they do not understand why! It is hard to have to explain to your child, “Honey, I’m sorry but grandma and grandpa have never liked me, they didn’t want your dad to marry me so they treat you differently,” when your children want to know why grandma and grandpa treats them so differently! Grandparents, it is wrong to put your grandchildren in the middle.
The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget…but my loving husband whom my former admirers would love to hate sat with me humbly for the past 2 years over this matter. At first, he put sense in to my mind back in 2010 to withdraw a lawsuit against my husband. What people have never understood is I did not directly sue my parents. But the attorney company I hired to press the legal charges against Dr Njenga who abused my well being went on charging everyone who was involved. I was so angry at my father when I learnt that actually he signed those procedures which gave Dr Njenga a nod to conduct his psychological abuse on me and I lost my child in a pool of blood in the aftermath.
The media immediately launched offensive attacks against me without considering the post psychological effects I just rose up from. Dr Njenga abuse, my husband jailed, lost child, combined family’s continuous scathing attacks, hired hit-men tracking me everywhere and CID police on my case. I slid to personal psychological defense mechanism system since my husband wasn’t there around me. The people who were around me by then were cowards, big talkers and chicken hearts. I resorted to being my own bodyguard, doctor and media attacks fighter until my husband got released from jailed!
Defense mechanisms which are specific archetypal patterns of behavior that result when human systems – whether on the individual, family, social, cultural, national or global levels – take on particular suboptimal structural configurations. These structural configurations developed in response to trauma, an event that wounded my system, infringing on its ability to meet its human needs for a period of time, to an extent great enough to affect the system’s arrangement of parts. Physical trauma led to structural changes on the physical, as well as on all other levels, while other forms of trauma impacted the more abstract, but equally crucial, structural aspects of my human system. It was very bad with the memories of huge loss of blood, beatings, CID trauma and Limuru ordeal.
Healthy systems, in anticipation of or in response to events or conditions, develop firm, but flexible boundaries. In the wake of a significant trauma, however, a system may develop a more extreme configuration – either overly rigid or overly flexible – that protects itself and its most important elements in order to best survive the immediate situation. Crucial as this response may be for short-term coping, this defensive structure may remain long after the original trauma has run its course, continuing to generate dysfunctional behaviors that inhibit the system’s ability to meet its needs and to develop or maintain sustainable health and maturity.
Trauma – consisting of several types and originating from personal, family, social, global and environmental sources – has grown so prevalent in many of our human systems that it has become normalized. Events and conditions that significantly diminish our ability to meet our evolved human needs have often come to be perceived as inevitable or even desirable. Thus, the resulting structural changes and defensive behaviors associated with trauma have become pervasive, exerting a profound impact on our lives, our institutions and our planet.
This is why dear Kenyans, it’s been a lengthened battle between this tiny army and you. Whether we like it or not, we belong to one country. We remain children of the same blood and culture. A time reaches when we need to put this foggy filth behind us and move on. Am not expecting everyone to like me for already some were full of hate for “their” own selfish reasons and they know it. I am writing to formally apologize, for all the moments of pain and misery that I might have inadvertently caused you, throughout my formative 2 and a half years. I also take this opportunity to forgive you in each and every trauma you’ve put me through!!!!
I therefore take this opportunity to apologize, for my constant bickering with you my beloved dad and mother (when I wasn’t trying my hardest to ignore you). I realize that you are not the annoying, sociopathic space aliens that I once thought. You are, in fact, quite wonderful wonderful people. Thanks to my husband who tirelessly inserted the positive thinking in to my senses of reason and thought that brought major meaningful senses. Now I reached a decision.
Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them. It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength which I missed but I can now see sense in it from the age of 13 when they were not there for me till the age of 29. How many years of parental absence? The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder. I hope you understand this and relieve me of this burden. I do confess though that I did not think you liked me in the past 2 years. They put a live teddy bear in my crib. I have therefore decided to put all this bitterness away and forget it for good.
This is not a condition, but I request you Dad and Mum to kindly accept my husband and child as part of our society. They’re the family I got. Whether we like this fact or not, they’re one of the major things that sent me away. Now am back and request to be accepted back with them. Is that okay Mum? Is that okay? Matthew 19:6
The Holy Bible says at Ephesians 6:4 “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Which means I have decided to come back to the dynamic family of the Arungas because I’ll never be provoked to anger again.
To you my dear mama, I was a mama’s daughter right from the time I remember. All my childhood memories have you in their frames. I learnt to walk erect soon enough, in more ways than one, with your unconditional love and affection. You taught me to be thankful, count my blessings, and learn from my mistakes. I couldn’t let you down. You had the vision to look at our family as a team and strengthen my wings to enable me to take off on my own in my early teens. You gave me all the space I ever needed to grow.
You weathered all the storms and turbulences that struck your path and demonstrated with élan, that a woman has many roles to play and being a mother is one of them. Little did I realize then that this was your way of imparting early lessons in motherhood. You braved the loss of your own mother with the composure of a saint. The dignity with which you let go of her was a tribute to her life shared with you. You were there again, guiding my steps when I walked into matrimony. I learnt from your marriage, that the secret of seeing it through the years is in just staying married. You taught me that it takes a lot of courage, patience and selfless love to wade through the difficult times which cloud the happy moments.
You took our child Sinclair into your arms when the world enjoyed the negative relationship that was between me and you. I chanced to see the joy and tears in your eyes which I missed seeing when I was in your arms. You were willing to learn the ropes of being a mother with me once more and better yourself at it, all over again. You had only yourself to compete with. Hats off to that spirit! Your happiness only increased manifold when I placed my daughter in your arms.
You probably felt that the almighty had given you one last chance to work on her in the areas you missed out on, with me. I know for sure that your efforts will bear fruits one day. I know that I shouldn’t have acted like that and that is why I am truly and deeply sorry for making you hurt on both the inside and on the outside, but you must believe me that my love for you will either stay the same or grow to be more because without you my son lacks a grand mother. And it’s reaching a time where your role over him is knocking the door. I am flying back home soon to visit you and make up for the rest personal family matters that I may not discuss here.
To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others. I am ready to rejoin this family again and fulfill this fruitful epistolary of good times that we did miss in absenteeism.
Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence!! May I be forgiven in the name of Jesus Christ!AMEN
July 10, 2014
A family in Kisumu is mourning after their daughter died in Sweden mysteriously. Jacktone Obong’o and his wife Scolastica Adhiambo say their daughter Vincencis Atieno died in Sweden last month and they learnt about her death through her sister, Diana, who lives in Germany. Diana is said to have travelled to Sweden where authorities confirmed the death and told her that the body had been kept in a mortuary to await her relatives. The ailing Adhiambo says Diana stopped communicating after sometime and they are now in the dark about what may have happened to Atieno’s body. According to Adhiambo, Atieno had travelled to the country with her Swedish boyfriend, a Mr Henry Lilja, whom she had met in Kenya.
The couple are said to have lived as husband and wife for five years and even had a child before separating. However, Adhiambo disputes that the two were married. “The man never came to my home and had never officially introduced himself to the family. He did not pay dowry so I cannot say they were married,” said Adhiambo. After parting ways with her initial boyfriend, Atieno is said to have moved in with another man, who later abandoned her with an 11-month-old child. Adhiambo says she last spoke to her daughter on May 23, when she promised to send her some money. She, however, did not keep the promise.
“I kept sending messages to her inquiring about the promise, but she never responded,” she said. According to her, no clear information has been forthcoming about her daughter’s death as there has not been any communication between the relatives and friends in Sweden and the family. “All their phones have since been witched off. Her Kenyan friends who promised us a ticket and visa to enable us to travel to Sweden have also gone quiet,” she said.
According to her, none of Atieno’s two boyfriends has agreed to bury her remains, although they are said to have assumed custody of the children. The family is now appealing to the Government to help them trace the whereabouts of their daughter’s body.