Kenya MPs vote to withdraw from ICC

 
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, 1 June 2013 The African Union wants the ICC to drop the charges against Uhuru Kenyatta

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Kenyan MPs have approved a motion to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) following an emergency debate.

A bill to this effect is expected to be introduced in the next 30 days, after opposition MPs boycotted the vote.

The ICC has charged President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto with crimes against humanity, which they both deny. Mr Ruto's trial is due to start in The Hague next week.

The ICC said the cases would continue even if Kenya pulled out.

The charges against both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto stem from violence that broke out after disputed elections in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 forced from their homes.

Mr Kenyatta is to go on trial in November.

'Defend Kenya's sovereignty'

Analysis

In one sense this is a calculated piece of political theatre. The issue of the ICC is generally agreed to have helped, not hindered, the electoral prospects of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

The debate in parliament will rekindle a sense of righteous anger among many here who feel that the president and his deputy are the victims, rather than the alleged perpetrators, of injustice.

This is a notion that is gaining currency, not just in Kenya, but across Africa. In May, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn accused the ICC of racist bias and of "hunting Africans."

That kind of sentiment could prove useful in the weeks to come, to counter the potential negative impression created by pictures of Mr Ruto in the dock.

Even if Kenya does eventually withdraw from the Rome Statute, it will not halt prosecutions currently under way. But it could embolden other African nations to follow suit.

They were on opposite sides during the 2007 election but formed an alliance for elections in March this year, and analysts say the ICC prosecutions bolstered their campaign as they portrayed it as foreign interference in Kenya's domestic affairs.

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse reports from the capital, Nairobi that even though the vote does not halt the cases, it sends a powerful signal of defiance to The Hague - a sentiment that is becoming increasingly popular, in Kenya and across much of Africa.

No other country has withdrawn from the ICC.

Kenya's parliament is dominated by the Jubilee coalition formed by Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto.

The motion, tabled by majority leader Adan Duale, said the pair had been "lawfully elected" and the government should take steps to "immediately" withdraw from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.

The sentence stating that Kenya would "suspend any links, co-operation and assistance" to the ICC was removed during the debate.

Mr Duale noted that the US had refused to sign the Rome Statute to protect its citizens and soldiers from potential politically motivated prosecutions.

"Let us protect our citizens. Let us defend the sovereignty of the nation of Kenya," Mr Duale is quoted as saying.

MPs from the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord), led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, walked out of the debate, calling the motion "capricious" and "ill-considered".

Kenya's withdrawal would not bring "honour to the nation and dignity to our leaders", Cord said in a statement.

"Kenya cannot exist outside the realm of international law," it said.

'Disturbing'

ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told the BBC's Newsday programme that Kenya's withdrawal would have no bearing on the cases against the two men.

ICC in brief

Fatou Bensouda
  • Set up in 2002
  • Based in The Hague, the Netherlands
  • Deals with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression
  • Court has been ratified by 121 countries, including 34 in Africa
  • Chief Prosecutor is Fatou Bensouda, from The Gambia
  • Democratic Republic of Congo militia leader Thomas Lubanga is the only person convicted so far
  • Investigating cases in Uganda, DR Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Ivory Coast and Mali

Source: ICC

"A withdrawal has an effect only for the future and never for the past," he said.

If Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto failed to co-operate, ICC judges "may decide to issue arrest warrants against these accused", Mr Abdallah added.

Amnesty International said the parliamentary motion was the latest in a series of "disturbing initiatives to undermine the work of the ICC in Kenya and across the continent".

"Amnesty International calls on each and every parliamentarian to stand against impunity and reject this proposal," said Netsanet Belay, the group's Africa programme director, in a statement.

Our reporter says that the withdrawal still has to pass at least one more parliamentary hurdle, and could take a year or more to come into effect.

Both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have repeatedly called for the cases against them to be dropped, saying the charges are politically motivated.

The ICC has refused and says it pursues justice impartially.

In May, the African Union accused the ICC of "hunting" Africans because of their race.

The ICC strongly denies this, saying it is fighting for the rights of the African victims of atrocities.

The ICC was set up in 2002 to deal with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The court has been ratified by 122 countries, including 34 in Africa.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 167.

    The list of cases the ICC is investigating says it all. What no Israel? UK? US? If I was an impartial ICC investigator, you'd think there would be rich pickings in those countries. Illegal invasion of Iraq based on fabricated evidence. 60 years of apartheid in occupied Palestine. Use of chemical weapons. I'd be like a kid in a candy shop investigating those.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 166.

    Truly laughable discussion going on regarding Africa. The simple fact is Africa was looted of its wealth by European colonialists. That's why it's poor today & Europe is rich. Failure to acknowledge that is either ignorance or racism (or both).

    Also, a significant portion of so-called aid provided by Western Govts goes directly into the pockets of well-connected Western organisations.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 165.

    No surprises here . It's pretty obvious the ICC exists largely as an attempt to entrench Western dominance. That's why no prosecutions (or even discussion of prosecutions) of Bush, Blair & their ilk. Same with the World Bank & IMF. Times are a changin' though and there have been successful attempts to change some of those institutions. We'll see with the ICC. Both Bush & Blair may yet see justice.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 164.

    It's amazing that folks read a one page BBC news story and thereafter start pontificating about what's good and bad for Africa. Why not educate yourself about the issues in Kenya before blathering on about Africa?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 163.

    80 Concentration camp guards to be investigated for being caught up in a totalitarian regime 70 years ago. Admittedly not by the ICC, but white people are tried as well, that is because they have their own moral custodians in their own countries. Africa doesn't seem too.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 162.

    I've said it many times on here (mostly about America); membership of the ICC should be mandatory for membership of the UN. To have influence in the world you should also have accountability

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 161.

    160 My OU course covered the Benin bronzes - african metal working so advanced they refused for years to think it hadn't been done by europeans.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 160.

    159. sleeping_southerner

    A few mobile apps? But who invented the mobile? And the app system/technology? Sorry, but piggy-backing on Western inventions doesn't count. If it's really true that there is no difference in intelligence between races, let's see a real invention by an African. I'm not being "racist", just asking for evidence.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 159.

    @156 Graphis

    You should probably read this before saying they haven't invented anything useful.. http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15003&a=54017

    I'd also suggest going to Ghana, you might be surprised what you see.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 158.

    .

    Africa, where the weak get abused in abundance and any criticism of it is deemed racist!

    .

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 157.

    155 Bradford
    Yes,no doubt they're be first "class" seats as well!!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 156.

    The birthplace of the human race, the oldest civilisation in the world, some of the greatest natural resources the world has ever seen... Africa SHOULD be the world's first superpower.... yet all they seem to do is kill each other over ancient tribal feuds, and they haven't invented anything useful since the spear. It's really sad... shame on you, Africa.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 155.

    No doubt the UK will be supplying aid which will get siphoned off by Kenyatta and his class

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 154.

    151 BRD
    "The economy will collapse"
    Does that include the South African wine industry!?
    I'm stocking up!
    153 seqenenre
    Too far for mid-air refuelling and no Vulcan bombers left!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 153.

    Someone else we can bomb instead of Syria, Dave?

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 152.

    What do you expect ?
    How can these people govern themselves, let alone follow the rule of law---
    it's only 150 years ago that they were having missionary soup for breakfast !

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 151.

    If people think Kenya and Zimbabwe are bad wait until South Africa implodes. The left wing of the ANC want a Zimbabwe style land programme and I believe it's coming within 5-8 years. The economy will collapse and there will be violent conflict. I'm not engaging in hyperbole. I've watched Africa & travelled there for 60 years. The early signs are already present.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 150.

    Overwhelming support on this Blog for the view that African countries, since independence,have not got the slightest idea how to govern themselves.

    They are still a continent of warring tribes, chiefs like Mugabe and Kenyatta who get very rich while the people who were "freed" from colonial monsters now see they were better off.
    These African countries are not worth a BBC Blog.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 149.

    What no talk from Obama and John Kerry to punish these two no threat of the US bombing Kenya? No oil in Kenya? No borders with Israel? No pipeline access the west wants? No chemical weapons? Just a couple of war criminals minding their own business. Well if they're minding their own business what's that to the policeman of the world. On to bombing Syria and 'that' war criminal.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 148.

    Can anyone truly blame the Kenyans for leaving the ICC? That organization has been the greatest farce ever perpetrated in the annals of all mankind! Only people from third world countries have anything to fear from it while the truly guilty from the U.S., Great Britain and France are completely immune and are free to do whatever they feel like! This is totally wrong!

 

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