International Criminal Court (ICC) may have terminated the case it had against top Kenyan leaders but the struggle between international court and Kenya is still boiling over.
The ICC has threatened to sanction Kenya if three Kenyans are not handed over to the Hague to answer charges of witness tampering.
During President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Nakuru rally on Saturday, the leader declared that no Kenyan will ever face trial at the Hague after the cases against Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua arap Sang on April 5 collapsed.
According to Uhuru’s statement while addressing the audience at thanksgiving rally in Afraha stadium, Nakuru:
“I will not allow any other Kenyan to be tried in a foreign court. As a country, we have closed the ICC chapter.”
However the ICC noted that Kenya is now at the risk of being sanctioned at the Assembly of States Parties for non-cooperation.
ICC Spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said:
“The legal procedure before the ICC is for the Judges to make a finding of non-compliance and to refer it to the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute for the Assembly to take any measure it deems appropriate, in case of non-cooperation.
The ICC is requesting the extradition of three Kenyans who are accused of witness tampering in the Ruto case.
The ICC issued the warrant for the arrest of the ex journalist Walter Barasa in 2013, lawyer Paul Gicheru and Philip Bett in October 2015. A different decision by ICC Judges to refer Kenya to the ASP for reportedly hindering the access to imperative proof against Uhuru is still pending.
ICC prosecutors claim the Kenyans had blocked their access to police officers who witnessed the violence of 2007, and ignored repeated requests for documentary evidence, including crucial financial statements and cellphone records.
Speaking on the three persons, president Uhuru said Kenya’s judicial system would handle the cases of the three Kenyans wanted by ICC over claims of witness tampering.
Quoting the president:
“Haturudi uko. Ilikwisha na imekwisha (We are not going back. It is over),”
Fadi revealed earlier this week that the international court is yet to receive any official communication from the Kenyan government showing its intention to cut off cooperation with the Court.
On legal grounds, Fadi said, Kenya is obligated to comply fully with ICC including implementing arrest warrants as it remains a state party to the Rome Statute.
“The ICC has not received any challenge to the admissibility of the cases against the three individuals charged with offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing, or attempting to corruptly influence, three ICC witnesses in the context of the cases arising from the investigations in the Kenya post-elections violence.”
“It is important that these serious allegations are properly adjudicated in a judicial process.”
Supporters of Uhuru and Ruto are still rallying behind the move to withdraw Kenya from the ICC even though crimes against humanity charges against them have been dropped. The African Union also expressed its support to the calls for a withdrawal from the ICC except immunity is granted to heads of state and senior officials.
But whether or not the country withdraws, it would not affect the demand for the extradition against Barasa, Gicheru and Bett. The Rome Statute regulations states that a country may withdraw from the ICC by writing to the Secretary General of the United Nations and it takes effect one year following the receipt of the letter.
During and beyond this period, it says, a country still has to cooperate with the ICC even after it has pulled out on any matters that came out prior its withdrawal.
“A State shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute, including any financial obligations which may have accrued,” Article 127 of the Rome Statute states.
The ex-prime minister opined that African countries must not quit the International Criminal Court as the continent is ‘the biggest violator currently of human rights’.