“During the past week he was forced to sleep naked and stand naked for inspection in front of his cell….”The suspect is Bradley Manning, a US soldier charged with leaking US government documents to ‘WikiLeaks’, a leak that has reconfigured the world. The US Government later released its annual human rights report, blasting the usual suspects including China and Russia. Predictably, the countries traded accusations.If this makes you think ‘human rights imperialism’ or ‘hypocrisy’, you will be right.Hypocrisy means deceit. It is the deceit of the moralist, whose invocations to good conduct are not reflected in his life. There are two kinds of hypocrisy: external and internal. External hypocrisy means ‘preaching water and drinking wine’. Internal hypocrisy means ‘preaching water and thinking wine’. This latter is subtle but diabolical. If external hypocrisy has a stench, internal hypocrisy is putrefaction itself.
External hypocrisy is often the tribute that vice pays to virtue. Thus GK Chesterton in Heretics explained, “We ought to see far enough into a hypocrite to see even his sincerity.Internal hypocrisy is different. When it flaunts itself, meaning ‘preaching water and also preaching wine’, it deserves strong rebuke.Thus did Jesus deliver seven ‘Woes’ against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.The pastor, politician and journalist are notable moralists in today’s world. Each is driven to teach, to influence, to moralise. So we are all susceptible to hypocrisy. Each has a podium, each thrives in their platform.Pastors in their church. Politicians at their rally. Journalists, through their pens or microphones, in the living rooms of the nation. Pastors and politicians dream of media-size platforms. So let us consider media hypocrisy today.
The same media persons chiding some of the Ocampo Six for manifesting unbecoming glee have been gleefully chortling at their discomfiture. The same media urging a blackout of the Ocampo Six quickly unite when media freedom is threatened.The journalists spouting the clichÈ ‘innocent until proven guilty’ are the same ones criticising the Ocampo Six for ignoring the pain of PEV victims as if their guilt is proven.Using sleight of hand, the Ocampo Six have been urged to restrict their pleas of innocence to The Hague. Yet the same media happily welcome Ocampo’s public accusations against the suspects. The media even keenly solicit the public’s views on the possible trial of the Ocampo Six.
But The Hague Six and their supporters must stand mute as their reputation is tarnished outside court.Truth be told, there is a big variance between American practice and British tradition on the sub judice rule. Kenya adhered close to the British tradition under the previous Constitution.Little public comment of ongoing trials was allowed. A graveyard silence was indicated, and any violation subjected to harsh penalties. The Judiciary, like football referees today, was considered vulnerable to the lightest criticism.Under our new Constitution, a more timid and American version of the sub judice rule applies. Healthy and robust criticism of the Judiciary is possible; also more commentary on phases of ongoing litigation.This is true for the ICC as well. The plea for a reverent pact of silence on the ICC is a threat to our democracy. It carries the stench of a colossal hypocrisy.
By Charles Kanjama.