Nuts and Bolts of the American-Kenyan relationship . . . .

A release today from the State Department:

Assistant Secretary of State Thomas M. Countryman welcomes a senior-level Kenyan delegation to Washington, D.C. from April 30 – May 5, 2012 for a Legal-Regulatory Implementation Workshop on Strategic Trade Controls and Border Security.  The Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) will host the Kenyan delegation, which will be led by the Assistant Defense Minister of Kenya; Major General Joseph Nkaisserry (retired).  Ambassador Ochieng Adala, Executive Director of the Africa Peace Forum, and other senior Kenyan officials involved in strategic trade control issues will also participate in the workshop. 

 The training, supported by the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program, is organized by the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia.  The five-day workshop will cover the spectrum of issues pertaining to the development, implementation, and enforcement of an effective strategic trade control and border management system in Kenya, which will advance the dual goals of improving international security and fostering sustainable economic growth.

 This visit provides a unique opportunity to discuss the fundamentals of an effective strategic trade control system with key Kenyan legislators and government officials and to help them incorporate strategic trade controls into future legislation. 

Saturday Prime Minister Odinga will be among the commencement speakers at Florida A & M University in Tallahassee:

State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, chair-elect of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, will lead the lineup of speakers scheduled for Florida A&M University’s Spring 2012 Commencement on Saturday, April 28.

Joyner, D-Tampa, will address students slated to receive degrees at the first of three sessions beginning at 9 a.m. at the Lawson Center.

U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn will speak at 2 p.m. Kenya Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga will speak at 6 p.m.

For those not familiar with Florida A & M, here is a history capsule from the website “Alumni Roundup”:

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University was founded as the State Normal College for Colored Students, and on October 3, 1887, it began classes with fifteen students and two instructors. Today, FAMU, as it has become affectionately known, is the premiere school among historically black colleges and universities.

Prominently located on the highest hill in Florida’s capital city of Tallahassee, Florida A&M University remains the only historically black university in the eleven member State University System of Florida.

Here is coverage of Odinga’s Friday speech to the Atlanta World Affairs Council.

And elsewhere in the United States, being another election year, some of my old right wing friends seem to be promoting a movie that claims that Obama was born in Kenya but that his father was American, not Kenyan (!).  And of course complaining again about Odinga.

A third year has gone by since the murders of Kenyan civil rights activists Oscar Kingara and J.P. Oulu

From March 2011::Five Years After the Kenyan Government’s Raid on the Standard and Two Years After the Oscar Foundation Murders, Impunity Reigns and a “Local Tribunal” for Post Election Violence Remains a Pipe Dream

As I have previously written, I have to miss the frenzy of reading the Wikileaks diplomatic correspondence, but the Kenyan newspapers are full of articles related to a few of the cables newly leaked.  Much of this is Kenyan politicians dishing on each other to curry favor at the U.S. Embassy, and probably in some cases news to Kenyan voters who don’t have the same access to their leaders as Americans do.

One of the main impacts of the leaks in Kenya, that I would not necessarily have realized, is the degree to which the well-publicized cables give the Kenyan media cover to report facts that are quite well known but that they would not otherwise dare print for fear of libel suits and official displeasure.  Certainly much of what Kenyan politicos tell the Embassy they will have told reporters, or reporters will have learned independently, but couldn’t report until the State Department’s internal “news bureau” was stolen and partially put out on the internet.

Some of the material dates back to the Government’s raid on the Standard media house on March 2, 2006.  Enough of this outrageous incident (really series of incidents) has long been well known that in any country with leadership at all serious about press freedom and the rule of law there would be some people in jail.  Nonetheless, total impunity for each and every player in all of the multiple criminal acts remains the status quo.  While U.S. Ambassador Bellamy was sharply critical at the time, there is no indication that this has been on the public diplomacy agenda since.

It is in this context that observers of the Kenyan scene have to realize that the notion of a Kenyan “Local Tribunal” that would try the kingpins of the Post Election Violence identified by the Waki Commission report was always a pipe dream.

We have a recent report on the killing of former Foreign Minister Ouko, said to have taken place at State House in Nakuru–no action.  We have the circumstances crying out for investigation in the murders of civil rights activists Oscar Kingara and J.P. Oulo–two years have gone by today with no action.

While I agree completely with the notion that as a wholly conceptual matter, a Kenyan tribunal rather than the International Criminal Court would be the best place to try the suspects for the Post Election Violence, it is also quite clear that that was never going to happen.  The will is simply not there–the Government of Kenya has a well established policy of impunity which has served the interests at stake very successfully for many years.  It will not change of its own accord, or through simple persuasion or jawboning.  A “Local Tribunal” in Kenya, if there ever were such a thing, would be a platform for deal making to preserve impunity, not a court of law.  Because the United States is not a member of the ICC, it may well be that we are not so credible as leading advocates of the ICC as the appropriate venue for the election-related trials–nonetheless, I think we should stop indulging political frivolity in the context of these grave crimes.

Related Post on local tribunal.