Monday, December 08, 2014

ICC Drops Charges from Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya

International Criminal Court(ICC) drops charges against sitting Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta.

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda filed a notice withdrawing the case against President Kenyatta on December 5, 2014 for lack of evidence resulting from alleged harassment and intimidation of potential witnesses. President Kenyatta was accused by the court of being partner to crimes against humanity including systemic rape, murder, and persecution against the opposition after national elections seven years ago.  At that time, post election violence left over 1000 people dead, after claims of widespread election fraud. At the time, Kenya’s institutional power was weak and victims’ advocates felt that the state was unable to deal with the situation in a timely and effective fashion.  There were serious concerns that Kenya could progress to Civil War. 

President Kenyatta was elected in 2013, and is the first sitting president to appear before the court in The Hague.  Since he and his deputy president have been charged, the Kenyan parliament has withdrawn its participation in the ICC.  Although that will not affect the current case again Pres. Kenyatta, it could affect actions by the Court in the future, and as well could affect activities by opposition parties within Kenya that may fear they do not have redress if needed.

The Kenyan government has protested the actions of the Court since the naming of the defendants.  It has claimed that the Kenyan court system is able to prosecute cases relating to the election violence thus the ICC is in violation of the principle of complementarity.  They claim that the ICC has lower evidentiary thresholds and procedures and practices than are actually present in Kenya.  Therefore, the ICC, as a court of last resort, should not have jurisdiction in this case.   They further charge that the ICC prosecutor has politicized the case, specifically by disparaging Kenyan cooperation to various civil society groups and Non States Parties (states that are not parties to the Rome Statute).

The ICC came into functioning existence in 2002 with passage of the Rome Statute.  There are 122 states parties that are members of the ICC, however, the United States is not one of them (and neither are Israel, Russia, Jamaica, and Thailand, among others). 

Since its inception, the ICC has opened several cases against African leaders, including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.  Also indicted have been then-sitting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who has refused to appear before the court, Ivoiran President Laurent Gbagbo, and Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.  This has caused criticism of the court for selective enforcement against African nations.  Furthermore, the first  indictment of a sitting president, Sudanese President al- Bashir, has also brought harsh criticism from African nations, who complain that targeting leaders of fragile states makes their jobs more difficult, lessens their legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens, and impairs reconciliation.

The ICC is currently investigating eight countries:  Cote d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, Libya, Uganda, Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mali and Darfur.  It is also monitoring situations in the following regions:  Central African Republic, Columbia, Georgia, Afghanistan, Guinea, Honduras, Nigeria, Iraq, Ukraine, and the Union of Comoros

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