News / Africa

Kenya Warns of ICC Threat to E. Africa's Stability

FILE - Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto (R) reacts as he sits in the courtroom before his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Sept. 10, 2013.
FILE - Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto (R) reacts as he sits in the courtroom before his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Sept. 10, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Kenya said the International Criminal Court's case against its two highest elected officials risked destabilizing the entire east African region at a meeting of the court's member states on Thursday.

At a debate to discuss the crisis resulting from the court's cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, the Kenyan attorney-general said the court and its member states were playing "Russian roulette'' with the country.

"Our country is the linchpin in the peace and security involving more than 250 million people from Djibouti to Eastern Congo and everybody in between,'' Githu Muigai told a special debate called at the request of the African Union.

He said Kenya - an ally of the West in the fight against militant Islam in neighboring Somalia - was a "pillar of security'' in Eastern Africa, to loud applause from many African delegates at the conference.

Kenyatta and Ruto face separate charges of crimes against humanity for their alleged role in stoking ethnic violence in the aftermath of an election in 2007 when 1,200 people were killed.

Kenya is pressing the ICC's members for an immediate change in the rules to say that heads of state do not have to attend trials, part of a broader campaign to halt the cases against its political leaders.

Officials also want a longer-term amendment to the founding treaty that would ban the prosecution of heads of state, a campaign which has become a rallying point in Africa, where many leaders say they are the target of an overzealous court in The Hague.

Kenyatta and Ruto deny the charges of fomenting violence after the election. Ruto's trial began last month, while Kenyatta's trial is due to start on Feb. 5 after being delayed for a third time.

"Africa feels marginalized, like toddlers, whom the international community feels have never learned to walk,'' Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told Reuters on Wednesday.

Last week, the African Union lost its bid to have the U.N. Security Council defer the cases for a year so the two could deal with the aftermath of an attack on a shopping mall by al-Qaida-linked Somali militants in which at least 67 died.

Recreating the court

Kenya said the outcome highlighted the need for reform of the Security Council to prevent a few powerful nations imposing their will on the world. It pledged to continue its fight at the ICC's annual meeting in The Hague, which started on Wednesday.

Human rights groups oppose the proposed changes as well as apparent compromise solutions such as a British proposal that would make it easier for the accused to participate via video link, saying these would weaken the court's mission to bring to justice those ultimately responsible for war crimes.

"The amendments represent an attempt to recreate the ICC in the image of African justice,'' said George Kegoro, executive director of the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists. "Timid, pliable and serving the comfort of leaders rather than justice for victims.''

The court has 34 African members, but any amendment would need the support of two thirds of the court's 122 members to pass.

But even if the amendments have little chance of passing, Foreign Minister Mohamed said a court composed of members of equal rank should listen to Africa's concerns. If some members were "more equal than others,'' she said, then "we have no business being there.''

Since their election, the two men have been defending themselves before the Hague-based court with the help of some of London's best-known human rights lawyers.

Kenyatta's legal team has asked judges to throw out the case against him, which they say is based on evidence from bribed witnesses.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid