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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry 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