On December 15, 2010, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested summonses to appear against six Kenyan citizens for crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-08. The request is currently under consideration by a pre-trial chamber of the ICC; no summonses have been issued to date.
Although the prosecutor’s application for summonses was widely welcomed by both local and international civil society, the Kenyan parliament passed a motion on December 22, 2010, urging the government to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty. While this motion is not binding on the Kenyan government, it has been reported that a group of Kenyan parliamentarians are preparing to table a bill which, if enacted, would effectively require the Kenyan government to withdraw from the Rome Statute.
Media reports also indicate that some Kenyan government officials are engaging in a diplomatic campaign to enlist the support of other African governments at the upcoming African Union (AU) summit for a United Nations (UN) Security Council deferral of the Kenyan cases under article 16 of the Rome Statute. These efforts are reportedly linked to government plans to establish a domestic judicial mechanism to try suspects of the post-election violence. It has also been reported that an earlier objective of this campaign may have been to call for a motion to be tabled at the AU summit to prompt the withdrawal of African states from the Rome Statute. Although Kenya’s Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has since been quoted in the Kenyan media as dismissing the withdrawal of other African states from the Rome Statute as an aim of the campaign, he has also been quoted as affirming that he was under instructions to unequivocally move any prosecutions of crimes arising from the 2007-8 post-election violence from the international arena to Kenya.
However, despite committing to the creation of a special tribunal for the post-election violence in December 2008, to date, the Kenyan government has taken no real action on national trials and the special tribunal has not been created. Credible national trials for those responsible for the post-election violence would be welcome. Indeed, to bring full accountability for the violence, national trials are necessary to complement the work of the ICC. But domestic trials should not be used to derail or defeat the ICC process.
(See rest of the release at the ICTJ’s Website)