News / Africa

Kenyan Cooperation with ICC Questioned

An April 2011 Combination picture shows Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta, who was finance minister, and William Ruto, former Higher Education Minister at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
An April 2011 Combination picture shows Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta, who was finance minister, and William Ruto, former Higher Education Minister at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Gabe Joselow
​Two months ago, Kenyans elected a president and deputy president both facing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC). While the two leaders have promised to cooperate with the court, some are wondering whether they are already using their influence to skirt justice.

Earlier this month, Kenya’s representative to the United Nations submitted a letter to the U.N. Security Council asking the body to terminate the ICC case against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

Both are charged for their alleged roles orchestrating the inter-ethnic violence that followed the 2007 election, in which more than 1,100 people were killed.

The letter argues that the election of Kenyatta and Ruto this year sends the “message that the two persons are not only innocent but deserving of responsibilities in the highest office of the land.”  It also questions the legitimacy of the ICC.

Both leaders have denied having anything to do with the letter, and say, as they always have, that they will cooperate with the court.

Maina Kiai, a Kenyan political activist with the group InformAction, said this action is typical of the two leaders. They have not necessarily broken any laws, but they have been sending mixed signals about their intentions.

“So it’s not illegal, but these are signals that are being presented that they are not in any hurry to clear their names. So, delay, delay, delay and whether that delay will turn out to be non-cooperation, who knows?”

With the cooperation question in mind, Kenyan political observers are watching Ruto’s and Kenyatta’s every move carefully.

Members of Kenya’s parliament questioned whether Ruto’s recent trip to West Africa was really about finding allies to help shoot down the ICC case, an accusation the deputy president denies.

Nic Cheeseman, an Oxford University lecturer in African politics, said the U.N. letter and Ruto’s travels could be parts of the same political maneuver.

He said, “The strategy at the minute seems to be ‘Let’s build as much political support as we can against the ICC case going ahead, let's see if we can make it a really hot political issue, let's see if we can make it Africa against the West and then maybe in that context we’ll get space for greater support for us to stop complying, or for political pressure to be put on this court behind the scenes for the court to drop the case,’ or something along those lines.”

Of course, another option is for Ruto and Kenyatta to just wait the court out.  ICC cases tend to take years to come to a conclusion, meaning the two defendants could potentially finish their first term in office before a decision is made.

The ICC has already delayed the proceedings against the two defendants.

Maina Kiai said the leniency of the court underscores the fundamental weakness of the international justice system.

“There is absolutely no country in the world where if someone is accused of killing two, three, four, five people are they then allowed to go free and then turn up at their cases when they wish," said Kiai. "Almost everybody who is accused of such crimes is held in pre-trial detention.”

But Human Rights Watch international justice counsel Liz Evenson said despite some holes, the ICC still has teeth.

“It’s not a perfect system, it’s still a system that can be gamed, but I think it’s one that’s gaining in strength," she said. "And what’s needed is for the international community to support these justice processes.”

Evenson notes that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been restricted in his travels because of an ICC arrest warrant. Of course, Bashir is a fugitive, who has never showed up at The Hague, while the two Kenyan leaders have so far complied with the court.

Ruto’s trial is scheduled to open May 28 and Kenyatta’s starts July 9. But any final outcome could be many years away and a lot could happen by then.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More