Kenya pulls out of the International Criminal Court

Palesa ‘Deejay’ Manaleng
kenya president

Yesterday, Kenyan MPs voted to become the first country to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) . The majority leader of Kenya’s parliament, according to the Guardian UK proposed a motion for Kenya to “suspend any links, co-operation and assistance” to the court.

The ICC has charged Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta and the deputy president William Ruto, with crimes against humanity. Ruto’s trial is due to start next week at the Hague: he faces three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly organizing 2007-2008 post-election unrest that killed at least 1100 people and displaced 600 000.

This is two months ahead of Kenyatta’s trial, where he will face charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, persecution, deportation and other inhumane acts. Amnesty International has reported that President Kenyatta’s list of alleged crimes includes “responsibility for rape and…forced circumcision and penile amputation – carried out by the Mungiki, a criminal gang allegedly under his control” . The view of the Kenyan parliament is that these charges are politically motivated .

The ICC said the cases would continue even if Kenya pulled out of the court which was established in 2002 to deal with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. “Withdrawing from the Rome Statute has no impact on cases already open, it does not affect investigations, proceedings of trial which have already started,” ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah said.

While it is too early to get a sense of what Kenya’s citizens think of this situation, Njonjo Mue, a spokesman for the Kenyan section of the International Centre for Transitional Justice, was quoted by the Guardian UK as saying: “The ICC still enjoys broad support among the general public so it’s a bad situation. There has been no attempt to find out what the victims of post-election violence think of these cases.”

Ndungi Githuku, a political activist in the capital, Nairobi, sums up the situation with his comment: “the victims of violence in 2007-08 are the losers”.

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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