FIDA Kenya defends ICC process

January 19, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya has criticised two American law professors who are seeking to block the International Criminal Court (ICC) from investigating Kenya’s post election violence, saying that the move was an insult to Kenyans.

American jurists Max Hilaire and William Cohn have filed a suit at The Hague in which they intend to raise seven legal issues that include questioning whether the case qualifies to be heard at the ICC.

But in a statement on Tuesday, FIDA said that the American lawyers never consulted any Kenyan on the matter.

“In calling for the ICC intervention, Kenyans are seeking an end to impunity and to ensure accountability and justice for the over 1,000 Kenyans who lost their lives, the over 300,000 IDPs who lost their homes and the over 5,000 women who were sexually assaulted,” read the statement signed by FIDA Chairperson Naomi Wagereka.

She said that recent polls in Kenya indicate that majority of Kenyans want the perpetrators of the post election violence tried at the ICC.

In their application, the American professors – who claim to be holding brief for nobody – want the court to grant them the status “Amicus Curiae” (friends of the court) after which they propose to raise issues concerning “the threshold requirements for exercise of jurisdiction and authorisation to commence investigations under article 15 (of the Rome Statute).”

They want to know why the case should go to The Hague since Kenya is not a failed State and efforts have already been made by the President and the Prime Minister to set up a local tribunal.
“The cumulative effect of the efforts to set up a local tribunal and actions of the President and the Prime Minister on the complementarity principle and the interests of justice in allowing commencement of an investigation,” states the lawyers. “The extent of and progress in investigations and prosecutions of crimes against humanity in Kenya and the effect thereof on the complementarity principle under the ICC statute.”

However, ICC reads malice in their intentions.

“One wonders then, whose interests are these American professors serving. Now that it has become impossible to establish the special tribunal, how do they expect Kenyans to get justice?” Ms Wagereka posed.

She wondered why the two professors were interfering in the process while America is not a signatory to the ICC and called upon the two to withdraw the suit. FIDA vowed to make presentations to ICC to counter their positions. “We wish to remind these professors that America is not a signatory to the ICC. We therefore urge them to leave Kenya alone and concentrate their energies in trying to get their country sign the ICC statute,” she added.

Prof Hilaire is the Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Sciences at Morgan State University while Prof Cohn has practiced as an Attorney in San Francisco, California.

There is also another case by a Brussels-based international lawyers Non Governmental Organisation announced its intentions to block the International Criminal Court.

The organisation has accused the ICC of selective intervention of African countries.

According to its resolution: “The IADL opposes the current request of the ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo for authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber to open the investigation into the crimes allegedly committed in Kenya during the post election violence.” 

“The violence in Kenya did not fall within the framework of the ICC Statute and did not meet the criteria for admissibility articulated in the Rome Statute and considering no UN body has been seized of the Kenya case, neither the General Assembly nor the Security Council.”

The group of lawyers also accused Mr Ocampo of being politically motivated to act on Kenyan perpetrators.


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