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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kenya: Violence Suspects May Face UK Travel Ban

Peter Leftie

Nairobi — Suspected masterminds of the Kenya post election violence may soon be barred from setting foot in the UK.

British High Commissioner to Kenya Robert Macaire revealed that the UK was reviewing its policies to conform to emerging international trends that ban perpetrators of war crimes and genocide from entering foreign countries.

"We are looking at our policy to conform to the global policy not to allow people who incite to violence from entering our country," Mr Macaire told a press conference after he held talks with Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang.

Mr Macaire confirmed that over 20 Kenyans had been barred from setting foot in UK or passing through its country's airports on transit to other countries since 2006.

"I will not tell you who they are but I can confirm that over 20 Kenyans have been barred," said the envoy.

He said majority of those who had been blacklisted were business people implicated in cases of corruption.

UK's warning comes in the wake of heightened activity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to evaluate evidence contained in the Waki envelope to establish whether it meets the court's standards before opening prosecutions against post election violence suspects.

Two foreign experts who worked closely with the Waki Commission to compile evidence on the suspected masterminds of the violence are said be at The Hague on the invitation of ICC chief prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo.

Sources say the two experts are expected to appraise Mr Moreno-Ocampo on the weight of the evidence contained in the envelope and ascertain whether more needs to be done to establish a water-tight case against the suspects.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo said he expected the ICC to start issuing arrest warrants against those named in the Waki envelope by December.

Mr Kilonzo who spoke during the swearing in of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) urged Mr Moreno-Ocampo to move fast and issue warrants against the suspects if there was evidence to sustain charges against them.

"I would very much like to know if the country really passed the threshold set for the offences that have been classified as international crimes against humanity," said the Justice minister.

"If we did, I prefer warrants of arrest to be even issued by December this year."

UK's threat to blacklist those accused of fanning post election violence appears informed by last Thursday's cabinet decision to drop the option of setting up a special tribunal to try the suspects, in effect giving the ICC the nod to step in and weigh the evidence adduced against the suspects.

Mr Macaire responded guardedly to his government's reaction to the cabinet decision, saying a meeting was being planned to "hear from the Kenya government."

The UK envoy had called on Mr Kajwang to table a proposal on how the two countries can harmonise their immigration rules to share information on illegal immigrants in both countries.

Mr Kajwang revealed that the need to share data on illegal immigrants arose out of UK's concern about cases where some foreigners had settled in Britain while claiming to be Kenyans.

"They want us to share data with them so that we can ascertain whether such persons are Kenyans or whether they had passed through Kenya," explained Mr Kajwang.

He, however, said it was difficult for the two countries to share such information unless the present immigration laws were amended.


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