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Online debates and Political activism: the Role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Fight to end Impunity in Kenya

Open Panel

Abstract

After the wake of 2007/2008 post-election violence (PEV) in Kenya, there were relentless calls for justice to be served and a sustained effort to end impunity. However, following the inability of the Kenyan authorities to agree on how to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the PEV, the ICC Prosecutor was authorised by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC to open an investigation into the PEV. Hence, in March 2010, the ICC decided to probe the PEV. However, in the wake of ICC’s decision to charge six Kenyans in connection with the PEV, debate has been raging in Kenya about the rule of external Institutions, in particular the ICC in investigating crimes against humanity and perpetrators of PEV. Assuming that the Internet provides an environment requisite for political engagement, this paper will reflect and attempt to answer the questions: how is the issue of impunity, justice and role of ICC being discoursed online? How are Kenyans (both as individuals and collectives, recipients and also content providers), empowered by these networked technologies actually participating in this debate and making their voices and opinions heard? Moreover, in light of Kenya’s history that is dented with tribalism, civil conflict and politics of belonging, how is the issue of ethnicity and political belonging playing into and guiding the impunity and ICC debates? Therefore, as the paper interrogates the Kenyan government’s position, it will establish how and if the online debates and activism have impacted or influenced the government’s decisions in any way.