10 September 2013

Kenya: Voting to Pull Out of ICC Was Voting for Impunity, Says Archbishop Okoth

Photo: ICC
Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court on his opening trial.

Nairobi — Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Justice and Peace commission has termed the recent motion passed by parliament seeking Kenya's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) as voting for impunity.

Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth said that voting to withdraw Kenya from the Rome statute would hinder the court's ability to investigate crime in Kenya now and in the future.

Addressing journalists at the KCCB offices in Westlands, Nairobi on September 10 Arch Bishop Okoth said that the move to withdraw from the courts would strip Kenyan people one of the most important human rights protections.

"In the spirit of protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law, the Kenyan parliament ,the senate and the government should note that a 'guilty or not guilty' is all that Kenya needs from the ICC", said Archbishop Okoth who also heads the catholic Archdiocese of Kisumu.

He added that withdrawing from the Rome Statute amounts to running away from the nation's international commitments.

Archbishop Okoth said that pulling out from the ICC will hurt the reputation of Kenya as a nation that supports international human rights and the rule of law.

He further urged the government, as promised in the election campaigns, to co-operate with the ICC to enable it complete its process.

'Members of parliament as law makers ought to know that a person is innocent until proved guilty. It is our duty to pray that the outcome of the ICC process will be according to God's will,' said Archbishop Okoth.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and Radio journalist Joshua Arap Sang have been accused by the ICC of masterminding crimes against humanity during and after the 2007 general elections. (See separate story)

Archbishop Okoth also warned members of parliament against setting a bad precedence by moving a motion not to be classified as state officers and for legislating on laws that have negative impacts on the common Kenyan like the VAT Act 2013.

He said the church was strongly against an unjust economy that has led to disturbing levels of poverty and urged the leaders to enact laws that protect and promote human dignity.

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