1,133 is not just a number

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Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the Assembly of States Parties
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Cold comfort for victims of Kenya's post-election violence

19 September 2016 - 22:09

Victims of the post-election violence scored a minor victory when judges referred Kenya to the Assembly of States Parties for sitting on evidence that would have been used to prosecute the case against Uhuru Kenyatta.

The judges’ decision comes 13 months after the Appeals Chamber ordered them to revise their December 4, 2013 judgment that stopped short of referring Kenya to the ASP.

“The ICC has squarely called out Kenya’s breach of its cooperation obligations to the ICC,” said Elizabeth Evenson, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “ICC member countries should make sure the message is heard in Nairobi that they will not turn a blind eye to the government’s obstruction of justice.”

But transitional justice expert Njonjo Mue, who is also senior programme advisor at Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, said: “It’s cold comfort for victims and the search for accountability.”

The Common Legal Representative for the Victims in the Kenyatta case has been disbanded, meaning that there will be no one formally responsible for informing those most affected by the post-election violence of this new development.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was forced to terminate the case against Kenyatta for lack of sufficient evidence, which she blamed on the Kenya Government’s failure to supply.

Trial Judges Kuniko Ozaki (presiding) Robert Fremr and Geoffrey Henderson observed that “judicial remedies had been exhausted and that the cooperation proceedings had reached a deadlock”.

“Despite the passage of a further 18 months … it appears that no further progress has been made in implementation of the [prosecution’s request],” the judges said in their 18-page decision released on Monday.

The referral comes against the backdrop of Kenya’s failure to arrest and hand over three suspects wanted by the ICC for witness tampering in the crimes against humanity facing Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang. The Ruto-Sang case was terminated over what judges termed as “intolerable incidences of witness interference and political meddling”. Arrest warrants against Walter Baraza, Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett have been pending for at least a year. President Kenyatta has vowed that no Kenyan will be tried before the Hague-based court.

Since 2013, after crimes against humanity charges were confirmed for Kenyatta, former head of the public service Francis Muthaura, Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang, Kenya has sent large delegations to the ASP each year at The Hague and in New York to lobby for rule changes and termination of the cases. Other diplomatic endeavours have targeted the African Union, whose open-ended ministerial committee on the ICC is expected to meet the United Nations Security Council this week to push for immunity of heads of state from prosecution, as well as the deferral of the genocide and war crimes cases against Sudanese President Omar el Bashir. The ministers also hope to raise issues on the execution of arrest warrants, rules of procedure and the use of regional courts in place of the ICC.

Already, Kenya has threatened to withdraw its signature from the Rome Statute, the treaty creating the ICC, with a private member's draft law to make good the threat being considered in the National Assembly.

 

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