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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
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 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 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.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid