5 February 2013

Kenya: KHRC Request to Participate in ICC Process Rejected

Nairobi — The International Criminal Court (ICC) has refused to allow Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) to participate in the judicial process against four Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity.

In a ruling issued last Friday, the presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki said KHRC's particular request to support in handling of witnesses was already taken care of by the Office of The Prosecutor and Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) and therefore did not require extra help to do that.

"Therefore, the Chamber finds that the submissions that the KHRC wishes to make would not provide any information beyond that which it has already received, or could obtain, from the Office of the Prosecutor and the VWU. The submissions would thus not assist the Chamber in the proper determination of the case," he ruled.

In its application on January 8 this year, KHRC (the nongovernmental human rights body) asked Trial Chamber V to accept its application so that it can assist the court in dealing with challenges facing ICC witnesses among them alleged threats and intimidation.

It also wanted to give views in regards to the disclosure of the identity of witnesses and the law that protects them.

Judge Ozaki noted that the services that KHRC was offering were a concern for the court which had already taken measures to deal with disclosure and protection of witnesses in the cases against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former Eldoret North MP William Ruto, former head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang.

He explained that the court accepts organisations to give their views only, "if it considers it desirable for the proper determination of the case".

"The Chamber is well aware of the general risks that witnesses in an international criminal trial may face, and of the law related to witness protection. Moreover, the appropriate bodies of the Court to inform the Chamber on the individualised risks for witnesses that are being called have done so already or have been ordered to do so," he said.

Contrary to KHRC's request to have their application held confidential by the court, the Trial Chamber said it did not see the need of keeping it confidential.

"Despite being required to do so pursuant to Regulation 23 of the Regulations, the KHRC has failed to provide any basis for classifying its filing as confidential. The Chamber finds that there is no reason for the Request and the Response to remain confidential," the judge asserted.

Kituo Cha Sheria was last year accepted to make their submissions in regards to the views of the victims for the fact that it is based in Kenya and has been working closely with victims of the 2008 post election violence.

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