Anger over MPs vote against ICC

December 25, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 25 – The vote by Parliament to withdraw Kenya from the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty continues to attract sharp criticism from various sections of the public.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua, who was the only legislator who opposed the motion on the floor of the House on Wednesday, argued that the endorsement of the proposal by lawmakers was a clear demonstration of the wanton impunity that continued to slow down the country\’s reform agenda.

She further questioned the timing of calls by her fellow legislators to establish a local tribunal to try suspects of the deadly violence in 2007/08.

\’It is not about sovereignty; it is about being traitors to national issues. They (MPs) are looking to processes that they can interfere with so that they are not touched. I\’m sure if Ocampo had touched on six ordinary Kenyans, all would be quiet," she charged.

The resolution by Parliament came a week after the ICC Prosecutor revealed six names suspected of masterminding the post poll chaos.

Speaking to Capital News, Ms Karua accused the President and Prime Minister of condoning Parliament\’s impunity saying they should rise up and play their leadership role. She argued that the two failed to support the motion to have a local tribunal when it first came up in 2008.

"History is repeating itself and I think they wanted Parliament to pass this resolution so that they can pretend to be obeying the dictates of democracy by obeying Parliament and writing a letter to withdraw the country from the ICC," she claimed.

She also asked Kenyans to demand their constitutional rights by speaking out against the move by the law makers saying church leaders were so far doing a commendable job.

"If Kenyans rely on us the political class, we will come to no good. We (politicians) are telling them that we can murder and steal from you when we want and we are untouchable and if people didn\’t know what impunity was you saw its face in Parliament yesterday," she said.

On his part, constitutional lawyer Paul Muite rubbished the move by the MPs saying it was non consequential. He maintained that Kenya\’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute would have no effect on the ongoing probe.

Mr Muite explained that Kenya would still have to explain and justify her decision through a formal notice by the Executive before the application was approved, in a year\’s time.

"Even after we pull out after these 12 months, nothing would happen to the events that occurred when we were still members of the treaty. So the post election violence and the commencement of investigations into it will not be affected," he said.

Mr Muite further argued that Kenyans suspected of perpetrating the violence would still not be able to enjoy their freedoms outside the country even if Kenya withdrew from the ICC.

"The international law now recognizes crimes against humanity whether a state is an ICC member or not. So we will still be vulnerable to being arrested because if you travel to a country that is a member state and you are among the six, then that country has an obligation to arrest you," he explained.

He added that it was improper for law makers and politicians to accuse the ICC of focusing on African countries.

"They have other nations say in Europe but with regard to Africa, Uganda which is being investigated requested the ICC not the other way round. The same thing happened with the DRC and the Central African Republic," he said.

Civil society groups also criticised the move saying it would encourage impunity and hinder reform.


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