NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – The government has conceded that Kenya’s sovereignty would in no way be undermined if the post poll violence suspects are tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC).,
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told Parliament on Wednesday that having signed the Rome statute that created the ICC, Kenya became part of international jurisprudence.
“Our submission to the ICC does not in any way impeach on our sovereignty. We are a signatory to the statute and we did so knowingly,” the country’s top diplomat said.
Kenya pegged its signature on the law establishing The Hague based ICC in 1998. Subsequently, Parliament passed the International Crimes Act last December to domesticate the law.
“This Parliament in passing the bill was clearly advised by the Attorney General as to what we were doing,” he stated.
Mr Wetangula was responding to MPs Bonny Khalwale, Gitobu Imanyara and Olago Oluoch who wanted the government to clear the air over allegations that the country would lose its sovereignty if the Kenya question went before an international court and not a local tribunal.
“Isn’t your answer a confirmation that sending suspects to The Hague is not subjecting this country to external influence?” Imenti Central MP Mr Imanyara inquired.
“Can the Minister confirm that when the suspects go to the same place it will not be a question of selling the sovereignty of this country?” Ikolomani legislator Mr Khalwale asked.
“Kenya having domesticated the statute is the basis under which a prominent Kenyan judge was elected to the ICC last month,” Mr Wetangula said referring to the election of Justice Joyce Alouch.
Mr Imanyara opposed the hasty passage of the bill that has now sparked heated debate and divisions in the government and in the National Assembly.
The government and backbenchers have in the last week been engaged in a tussle over the passage of the Constitution Amendment and Special Tribunal for Kenya Bills, which seek to entrench the special court in the constitution, and enable it to try suspected financiers and planners of 2007/2008 post-election skirmishes.
Parliament skipped voting on the crucial bills for the second time on Tuesday for lack of the 148 MPs required to pass it.
The mediation team and the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs are expected to meet and institute the necessary amendments before the bill is reintroduced in parliament next Tuesday.