Africa plots mass walkout from ICC

March 14, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – The African Union (AU) is contemplating withdrawing from the Rome Statute in July this year should a deferral of the cases against Kenya’s Ocampo Six at the International Criminal Court (ICC) fail.

Kenyatta University don Dr Godfrey Musila – who’s an expert in international law – told Capital FM’s Talk 360 show on Sunday evening that the AU was in the process of developing a document which, if approved, will enable the formation of a parallel African court on criminal justice.

“The Kenyan situation is a trap for the ICC. (African countries) will be saying we are withdrawing from the ICC, not because we support impunity, but because we want to form our own institution,” he explained.

Speaking on the show, Ugandan international conflict resolution expert Dr David Matsanga pointed out that veto-wielding states in the UN Security Council would be condemning the ICC should they block Kenya\’s bid.

“(Kenya) is trying to save the International Criminal Court from collapse. Come July this year, if the Kenyan deferral is not given, the 32 countries of the AU in the ICC will remove their membership,” he stated.

“The (AU) leaders have now vowed; we sent the Sudan deferral case to the Security Council and America played, so now let us send the second deferral from Kenya and see what it will do.”  

The two experts made the revelation barely a day after Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka jetted back into the country exuding confidence that his mission to lobby members of the Security Council to support Kenya’s prayers would bear fruit.

On Saturday, the UN decision making organ invited Kenya and an AU representative to an informal meeting where members would hear the country’s argument for a 12-month postponement of the on-going ICC proceedings.

Kenya\’s permanent representative to the United Nations Macharia Kamau will lead the delegation to meet the UN Security Council for the informal talks.

Britain and America who are part of the five permanent members have expressed their reservation to the deferral bid, but Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said he made efforts to "deal with the two so that they can abstain from a possible vote."

Dr Matsanga explained that an abstention would be the most logical route for the two countries to take, arguing that Kenya’s support from the African Union was weighing heavily in its favour.

“The best America can do is to abstain, because it has no moral authority to discuss human rights when it is not even a signatory to the Rome Statute,” he said.

The Security Council can issue a one-year suspension if there is a threat to international peace and security. The ICC pre-trial chamber last Tuesday ordered the six Kenyans to appear before the court on April 7 on charges that they masterminded the post-election violence.

Those required to appear at The Hague include Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto and Tinderet Member of Parliament Henry Kosgey.

Others are former Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and Radio presenter Joshua arap Sang.

All six have indicated their intention to honour the ICC summonses.

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