News / Africa

AU May Seek Deferral of Kenyatta ICC Case

FILE - Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union CommissionFILE - Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union Commission
x
FILE - Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union Commission
FILE - Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union Commission
Margaret Besheer
The chair of the African Union (AU) Commission signaled Tuesday she could ask the United Nations Security Council for a deferral of the International Criminal Court case against Kenya's leaders.  

Diplomats with knowledge of the private meeting said that AU Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told a visiting Security Council delegation that the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy president, William Ruto, should be deferred for one year.

She cited the recent terrorist attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, saying the Kenyan leaders needed to focus their attention on the country's security and could not afford to be away at The Hague-based court for weeks at a time.

The African Union is scheduled to hold an extraordinary summit Thursday and Friday about the International Criminal Court.  A formal deferral request to the council could come out of that session.

The U.N. Security Council has the power to issue what is known as an Article 16 deferral for cases at the International Criminal Court.  But such a decision would require the agreement of all 15 council members.

The Kenyan president and his deputy have been charged with instigating post-election violence in 2007 and 2008 that killed more than 1,100 people and displaced more than half a million others.

Thirty-four African countries are members of the ICC, but lately some have criticized the court, saying it is politically driven and is unfairly targeting African leaders.

The head of Human Rights Watch's International Justice program, Richard Dicker, says African criticism of the court is unmerited.

“In five of the eight African states where the court is conducting investigations, it was the governments of those countries that invited the ICC to step in as a court of last resort.  Two additional situations, Libya and Darfur, are in front of the ICC because of Security Council action, not because of initiative taken by the ICC.  And it is only in one situation - that is Kenya - that the court prosecutor acted on his own initiative," said Dicker.

There had been talk of a mass withdrawal of African states from the court, but Dlamini-Zuma's suggestion of a deferral could indicate there is not the widespread support Kenya and others had hoped for to make an impact.

At the AU-U.N. meeting in Addis Ababa, diplomats said procedurally the Security Council would consider a deferral request if it is presented, but on the issue of the ICC the council is split.

While council members agree the court is an important tool to fight impunity, only six of the 15 Security Council member states are parties to the Rome Statute, the treaty which created the ICC.  The United States is not among them, but President Barack Obama's administration has expressed a willingness to cooperate with the body.

The states' parties to the Rome Statute meet annually in New York.  They will convene there next month, and some diplomats said that would be the proper forum for a discussion of the Kenyan case.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid