The Nation (Nairobi)

6 February 2011

Kenya: Russia Likely to Back Deferral of ICC Trials

Nairobi — Russia has indicated it may back Kenya's bid for a deferral of its cases at The Hague.

Russian ambassador to Kenya Valery Yegoshkin said that whereas his country has not yet taken a stand, it supports the sovereignty of states.

"Russia is not party to the Rome Statute. We are not concerned and have not taken any position. However, every country has a sovereign right," he told the Nation.

Russia, together with China, US, UK and France, make up the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The council has another 10 non-permanent members.

Under Article 27 of the UN Charter, Security Council decisions on all substantive matters require the affirmative votes of nine of the 15 members.

A negative vote, or veto, by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal even if it has received the required number of affirmative votes.

"This kind of organisation (ICC) restricts the sovereignty of nations. Perhaps this is the reason why states such as Russia aren't members," said Mr Yegoshkin. "We think this is not our affair," he added.

However, the US, also not a member of the ICC, has always urged Kenya to comply with its obligations under the Rome Statute.

Protect the suspects

Through deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Washington has said it would not support the deferrals, especially if they were meant to protect the suspects.

"What is critical is to make sure accountability is achieved and impunity is avoided," Mr Steinberg said.

Kenya has already obtained the support of the African Union, which on Monday, during a two day summit in Addis Ababa, issued a declaration requesting the UN Security Council to accede to Kenya's request for deferment of the ICC investigations and prosecutions.

Two months ago, Parliament voted overwhelmingly for Kenya to pull out of the Rome Statute which established the ICC.

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