, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 30 – Kenya may face economic and travel sanctions after the International Criminal Court (ICC) reported the country to the United Nations Security Council for inviting and failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the court.
International Centre for Transitional Justice Head Njonjo Mue told Capital News on Monday that asking ICC member countries to sanction governments that violate international codes is the major step that the UN takes in similar cases.
“I am not saying they will impose sanctions on Kenya, but when UN resolutions are not followed, sanctions would be more extreme reactions,” he said.
Mr Mue also said it was unclear what action or when the UN would react since Kenya was not the first member country of the ICC that Mr Bashir had visited.
President Bashir has been in Chad and Uganda which are all ICC member states but no action has been taken against the two countries after they failed to arrest him.
Other implications are also a negative international image for Kenya.
According to Mr Mue, the Kenyan government violated the international treaty which requires member states to arrest and handover those who have been indicted by the ICC: “The government had an obligation to arrest Mr Bashir and if it knew it could not do so, then it should not have invited him to the promulgation of the Constitution.”
He also dismissed excuses by the government that it was the African Union (AU) position to consider regional peace before international recommendations.
“The government ratified the ICC Treaty long before the AU took its position not to arrest Mr Bashir; so the government cannot use the AU resolution as an excuse for not abiding by treaty obligation, this is really unacceptable,” he said.
He said Kenya’s failure to arrest Mr Bashir was a big test to its promise that it will cooperate with the ICC to deal with Kenyan perpetrators already under investigation.
President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga last year promised ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo that the government would give him all the cooperation he required in the investigations and arrests of suspects of the 2007 violence.
But Mr Mue said Mr Bashir’s presence in Kenya and lack of action by the government only indicated that the promise made may have just been in words but no action was likely to be taken when Mr Ocampo completes his investigations by end of 2010.
He said it also sent strong signals that raised a red flag to anyone seeking for accountability and fighting impunity.
“If Kenya could not cooperate in arresting and handing over an indicted suspect, who is a citizen of another country, how can it be relied upon to arrest and hand over any Kenyan who might be indicted after the investigations?” he queried.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula on Friday said that the government had invited Mr Bashir and would not arrest him since Kenya is in agreement with the AU resolution not to arrest him.
However, Mr Bashir’s presence in the country caused yet another blame game in the government with Mr Odinga differing with Mr Wetangula and terming the presence of Mr Bashir\’s as a ‘wrong move’ and insisted that the country must honour its obligations as a signatory of the Rome statute and other international agreements.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local government Musalia Mudavadi has said that the blame game on the Sudanese President Omar Al- Bashir’s presence during Friday’s constitution promulgation should stop.
Mr Mudavadi said on Monday that Kenya cannot reverse what happened and there was now need to move on as a nation.
“Even if we talk about Bashir, we will talk about it but I think what the International community will be looking for is a clear re-affirmation that the Kenya government is committed to the ICC and the Rome statute and that’s the only way we can do damage control because his invitation kind of negated to the commitment of Kenya to the ICC process,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
He however insisted that the cabinet was not aware that the Sudanese President would come because they had been informed that the Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit would represent Khartoum.
Local Government Assistant Minister Lewis Nguyai said the government should take collective responsibility and stop the blame game.
“Before we went for the referendum, there were always joint statements issued as a team but now you can start seeing statements that are being issued by ODM and probably pretty soon you will see statements being issued by PNU. If we have made diplomatic goofs, let us accept that they are diplomatic goofs for a collective coalition government,” he said.