ICC deferral bid dealt another blow

March 15, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – Kenya\’s deferral motion on Tuesday suffered another blow after civil society organisations presented 1.4 million signatures, against the move to three permanent members of the Security Council, who have always opposed the bid.

The lobbyists made their petition to the American, British and French governments as well as to the non-permanent Council members requesting them to turn down Kenya\’s application terming it a delaying tactic meant to sway next year\’s elections.

American Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger said that the deferral motion would promote impunity adding that the US would frustrate Kenya\’s appeal.

"The Vice President was seen by our Deputy Secretary of State but let me just say that we made our position very clear. We are firmly opposed to a deferral. I think that speaks for itself and I\’m not going to say it anymore because I think it is absolutely clear," he said.

British High Commissioner to Kenya Rob Macaire further warned Kenya against using the Security Council as a means to shield itself from criminal responsibility.

He argued that the Council only came in when issues of international security were threatened and that it was not mandated to interfere with the ICC process.

"If the Security Council was to come in and defer a case for any other reason that is not stipulated in the Rome Statute, it will be undermining the independence of the ICC and it will set a very bad precedent for future ICC cases," he argued.

French Ambassador to Kenya Etienne de Poncins however took a softer stance saying he did not wish to pre-empt Wednesday\’s informal discussions at the Council, where Kenya\’s request would be considered.

He said that discussions surrounding the issue were still ongoing and that Kenyans should wait for the outcome.

Kenya has been invited to the meeting together with officials from the African Union where they are likely to argue why they want the ICC cases delayed for one year. After they make their presentations, the Council will decide whether or not to list the matter on its agenda.

"Time has not come for formal vote so we will not take a position now. We are still in the listening phase and we now want to enter into a dialogue because time has, for us, not yet come for a definitive stance," said Ambassador Poncins.

Meanwhile the civil societies added that they would enjoin themselves as interested parties in favour of the ICC when the Court\’s admissibility and jurisdiction would be challenged.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Commissioner Hassan Omar argued that Kenya invited the ICC to investigate the post poll chaos and should therefore stop changing tunes. 

"The ICC prosecutor came to Kenya courtesy of all Kenyans and he meets the President and Prime Minister in all his visits so that is not a person who is gate crushing a state function. That is a person who is coming for serious business; not to market the ICC as a tourist destination," he countered. 

Mr Omar added that Kenya would set a bad example to the rest of the African countries if it continued politicising the ICC process. 

"If impunity succeeds in Kenya, then it will succeed in the rest of Africa. Kenya set precedence about sharing power and we see that being replicated across Africa. We are going to see a situation where African countries don\’t deal with perpetrators of violence," he said.

The non-governmental organisations also claimed that they had already sent 600,000 signatures from individual Kenyans, to the ICC, registering their support for the Court.

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