, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 27 – The Foreign Affairs Ministry has written to the International Criminal Court protesting changes made to sections of its Rules of Procedure and Evidence during the 34th plenary session of the judges held last month.
One of the amendments is that the functions of the Pre-Trial and Trial chambers, including the confirmation of charges and the hearing will be performed by one judge, instead of three due to constraints.
In a statement, Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said there is no basis for such claims as the Assembly of State Parties had approved increased budget to the court.
“Kenya appreciates the efforts of the judges, the strive for expediting the judicial process and enhancing efficiency. However, this must and should be done in accordance with the existing laws,” she stated.
The changes were made by the court due to what it terms as a shortage of personnel and work overload to increase efficiency amid financial constraint.
In a letter to the President of the Assembly Silvia Fernandez, Amina requested that the proposals be withdrawn based on their illegality or the states be given more time to discuss and share their views.
“Article 51(3) provides that rules of procedure and evidence may be adopted only if the rules do not provide for specific situation before the court. In other words, the role of the plenary of judges is only limited to filling the existing lacuna,” she stated.
“We are not convinced that in the current situation, there is a Lacuna to fill in relation to the number of judges presiding over the Article 70 cases,” she said.
Article 70 is about offences against the administration of justice, which include witness interference and giving false testimony under oath.
The ICC judges amended the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and adopted a new regulation aimed at making it easier to deal with offences against the administration of justice.
The move came at a time when Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda indicated she may pursue those who interfered with her Kenyan witnesses.
Bensouda has blamed witness tampering for the collapse of the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta and the weakening of her case against Deputy President William Ruto and former radio host Joshua arap Sang.
The provisional Rule 165 came into force when the judges adopted it and will remain in force until adopted, amended or rejected by the Assembly of States Parties.
Bensouda has already used Article 70 to get warrants of arrest against three Kenyans Paul Gicheru, Walter Barasa and Philip Bett for allegedly bribing witnesses.