31 January 2016

Kenya: Uhuru Asks AU to Develop a Roadmap for Withdrawal From ICC

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked the African Union (AU) to develop a roadmap for withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Delivering his speech to the African Union Assembly on Sunday President Kenyatta said the ICC has been a disappointment having weak cases with weak investigations and pursued with politicized zeal.

President Kenyatta said the way the ICC treats Africans should inspire the continent to withdraw from the court.

"We refuse to be carried along in a vehicle that has strayed off-course to the detriment of our sovereignty, security and dignity of Africans," he stated.

The president was specifically disappointed on how his case and that of his deputy William Ruto was handled.

"Prosecution's case in their proceedings came to a close with opportunity granted to the judges to review all the evidence adduced thus far. Not surprisingly, the weakness of the case was exposed for all to see. The Prosecution seeks for the court to proceed without evaluating evidence. In any criminal justice system, these cases would never have come to trial," he explained.

He says the cases have become a huge distraction from their duty to serve Kenyans and Africa.

"It is our expectation that the law will be applied and cases terminated. This is not what Kenya signed up for when we joined the ICC. In previous decisions, this Assembly has supported amendments to Article 27 of the Rome Statute to align it to the norms of Customary International law on immunity for Heads of States."

"We must reaffirm that the global standard for the immunity for Heads of State should also apply to Africa," he stated.

He says the AU must reaffirm its commitment to the Malabo Protocol as Africa's instrument for continental justice and work to expeditiously operationalise it.

"It is my sincere hope that our ICC reform agenda will succeed so that we can return to the instrument we signed up for. If it does not, I believe its utility for this continent at this moment of global turmoil will be extremely limited. In that eventuality, we will be failing in our duty if we continue to shore up a dysfunction instrument," he added.

With Kenya taking the lead, some of the African members have accused the ICC of targeting African states in its investigations.

Of the 123 members of the Rome Statute, African States enjoy majority of the membership with 34 of them being signatories.

The cases against Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang and the one against Sudan president Omar al Bashir are key among items straining ICC's relationship with Africa.

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