, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump featured prominently at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday, as lawyers used his venomous mouth as an example in their arguments in defense of journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The debate centered around personal criminal responsibility if one made a statement and soon thereafter a different person took criminal action in apparent reaction to the former’s words.
Sang’s lawyer Caroline Buisman recalled disparaging utterances made by Trump against Latinos and Mexicans.
In her view even after a homeless Hispanic man was attacked following Trump’s remarks, there had been no attempts to prosecute him for his utterances.
“Politicians like Trump who has gone very far in identifying Mexicans as the problem and people actually acted upon that. He’s even gone further in closing of borders and (implying) that all Muslims are criminals.”
Buisman argued that an allegation that words used by Sang during his radio show amounted to incitement and led to violence executed by those who heard him required proof.
“We are talking about protected speech, to go from protected speech to crime and then an international crime, further steps need to be taken,” she said.
Before making such a conclusion, Buisman explained that the potential of that speech leading to incitement then violence had to be established.
“First we have to establish that the speech itself is inciting and we have to establish that this speech that is inciting violence was heard by the people who eventually acted upon that message,” she explained.
Buisman concurred with the arguments that defining what amounts to hate speech leading to incitement then violence was indeed an endless debate that required to be contextualized.
The context in which Sang is alleged to have used words that led to violence, Buisman said, should be reviewed based on the international criminal standards to establish whether they resulted to violence.
She argued that in case Sang uttered words considered to be hate speech, he should not be held responsible for the actions of his utterances.
She told the court whereas some speeches are rated as offensive, they ‘were not necessarily inciting.’
The court heard that Sang, being a journalist, was allowed to listen to the views of his listeners who could have used words deemed offensive.
However, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji tasked her to illustrate the relationship between political utterances made by Trump in the context of American politics and those alleged to have been made by Sang in the Kenyan context.
In his view, the context in which Trump made the remarks in the U.S was totally different from Kenya which has a history of political violence.
According to Osuji, the remarks by Trump led to an attack of one person which was incomparable to the violence in Kenya which claimed lives of more than 1,000 people and displacement of over 600,000 people.
“In the context of the speech of Mr Trump one man was assaulted in the streets – not killed – assaulted – which is bad enough. But do you compare that with instances in which we talk of about over 1,000 people killed in the PEV in Kenya?” Osuji wondered.
It was her submission that Sang did not utter words that resulted to violence.
Earlier, Sang’s lead Counsel Katwa Kigen told judges of the ICC to withdraw charges in the case against Sang arguing that he did not participate in the activities of a network that allegedly planned and executed attacks in the Rift Valley.
READ: Sang is innocent, his lawyer tells ICC judges