News / Africa

Kenya Pushes for Delay as ICC Trial of Kenyatta Looms

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives to attend Mashujaa (Heroes) Day at the Nyayo National Stadium in capital Nairobi, Oct. 20, 2013.
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives to attend Mashujaa (Heroes) Day at the Nyayo National Stadium in capital Nairobi, Oct. 20, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial date at the International Criminal Court is now less than three weeks away.  His administration, with backing from the African Union, is lobbying for the case to be deferred. 

Kenyatta has been adept at turning the ICC charges against him from a potential blight on his career to a rallying cause for his supporters.

Accused of orchestrating violence after Kenya’s 2007 presidential election that killed more than 1,100 people, Kenyatta has characterized the charges as a neo-colonialist attack on the country.

He used the rhetoric most recently in a speech Sunday marking the country’s equivalent of Heroes Day celebrating fallen freedom fighters, like his father, Kenya's first president.

“Let us confront without flinching those external forces seeking to thwart our collective aspirations," he said.  "They may be powerful and rich, but so were the colonists.  They may disrespect, but we have defeated their ilk before.”

Kenyatta’s trial is due to begin November 12 at the ICC in The Hague, where the deputy president, William Ruto, is currently attending proceedings in a separate but similar case against him.

Meantime, Kenya and the African Union have been lobbying the United Nations Security Council to have the case deferred for a year, citing concerns about security in Kenya and the region.

The requests follow September's terrorist siege on a Nairobi shopping mall attributed to the Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab.  The argument is sitting leaders cannot react and handle future security threats, if they are out of the country for prolonged trials.

Adams Oloo, political science chair at the University of Nairobi, says Kenya and the AU are exploring “unchartered waters” in trying to get more leverage for African leaders.

“The Kenyatta regime and the African Union are saying they don’t want to set precedents in which there is a possibility of heads of state from Africa, in future, being dragged into the court.  I think that’s the problem, the major problem that they have,” he said.

Kenyatta and Ruto have cooperated with the court so far and have promised to continue to do so.

The president won what appeared to be a minor victory last week when ICC judges ruled he would not have to appear in person for all of his trial - only for the opening and closing statements, judgments and when victims testify.

Barring a deferral from the U.N., Oloo says he expects the president to continue to cooperate with the ICC, as long as chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda does not appeal the decision allowing him to skip some portions of the trial.

“I think they’ll only have a problem if Bensouda appeals and it is now demanded that he should be there physically the way the deputy president is there physically on a day-to-day basis.  I believe they would have a problem with that and would see that as trying to undermine his authority as head of state and head of government,” he said.

Bensouda has appealed against a similar decision granting Deputy President Ruto a conditional exemption to appearing at his trial.  A judgment on that appeal is due on Friday, and will indicate how much leeway might be granted to the president.

Still, some rights groups in Kenya see a potential deferral of the trial as a deferral of justice and object to Kenyatta's attempts to escape appearing in person.

“You know, in these discussions, where are the victims?" Those people who suffered, who lost their property, who lost their lives, those who lost their loved ones.  How do they access justice?" asked Stephen Musau, chairman of the Rights Promotion and Protection Center in Kenya.

If things do not go Kenyatta’s way, and were he to skip his trial altogether, he could be slapped with an international arrest warrant, like the one put on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes and genocide charges.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Josphat from: Nairobi
October 23, 2013 11:32 PM
While there's no doubt atrocious crimes were comitted, all witness testimony so far shows the wrong people are in the dock. Its a case visiting injustice on innocent people in the name of justice for the victims, for political expendiency. The real criminals must be in 7th heaven as ICC OTP continues down the wrong rabbit hole inspite of glaring evidence. Its also amazing that numerous claims of criminal influence of witnesses by the OTP are not being investigated

by: Collins ochieng from: Nairobi
October 23, 2013 2:15 PM
If prezo is innocent as he claims why does he fear the hague?.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs