[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Committee (OHCHR) [official website] on Thursday urged Kenya to investigate all cases related to the 2007 post-election violence [JURIST news archive] in order to avoid impunity. The OHCHR expressed concern [Reuters Africa report] that the proceedings against the perpetrators responsible for the violence are making slow progress and urged the government to increase efforts to address the cases. In addition, the UN body called on the authorities to ensure that adequate protection for Somali refugees is provided amid reports of physical and sexual violence by police officers against them. Along with the OHCHR's call, the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Thursday reported [AFP report] that witnesses in the trial of four Kenyans, former Kenyan minister William Ruto, journalist Joshua Arap Sang, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former civil service chief Francis Muthaura [case materials], are subject to increasing threats and intimidation. The ICC urged the government to ensure that those responsible for the threats are being reported. Despite the fact that the prosecution witnesses are outside of the country, the threats continue, even targeting family members of those perceived to be witnesses. The ICC also announced that it will investigate the threats and intimidation.
Earlier this month, the ICC set the trial dates [JURIST report] for the post-election violence cases against the four accused for next April. The trial of Ruto and Arap Sang is expected to start [decision, PDF] on April 10, 2013 , while the trial of Kenyatta and Muthaura is to begin [decision, PDF] on April 11, 2013. Last month the ICC expressed its desire to start the two Kenyan trials simultaneously [JURIST report] to avoid any appearance of bias in the March 2013 presidential election. Ruto is considered a leading candidate in the election which will take place March 4, 2013. The four men have been accused and charged with involvement in the 2007 post-election violence. Ruto and Sang are facing three counts of murder, forcible transfer and persecution while Kenyatta and Muthaura are facing five counts of orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the polls' aftermath. In May, the appeals chamber of the ICC rejected [JURIST report] the jurisdiction challenges in the two cases presented by the defense, clearing the way for trial. The defense lawyers had argued that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the cases. The appeal stemmed from the pre-trial chamber's decision to confirm the charges [JURIST report] against the four men in January. The ICC claimed jurisdiction over the case despite Kenya's calls for dismissal [JURIST report]. The Kenyan government argued that it was capable of prosecuting the accused men domestically.