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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid