MOMBASA, Kenya, Sep 19 – The leader of the majority coalition in the Senate Kithure Kindiki has echoed an assurance by Deputy President William Ruto to the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Kenya pulling out of the Rome Statute will not affect the ongoing cases.
He sought to assuage the Office of the Prosecutor’s fear that Kenya will no longer co-operate with the ICC once it ceases to be party to the Rome Statute.
“There is a law in Kenya – the International Crimes Act – to provide for co-operation and we have said that one we don’t have to repeal it until these cases come to an end,” said Kindiki.
He went on to submit that the timing of the pullout was coincidental and was not intended to influence the cases currently before the international court.
“But on the other hand it doesn’t mean that we sit down and wait for the cases to end…so what is the timing business? How does timing come in? We’re pulling out (and) the cases are going on, period. Otherwise when did the Prosecutor and company want us to pull out, when is she recommending that we pull out?” he posed sarcastically.
Senior ICC Prosecutor Anton Steynberg had however contended that Kenya’s history of frustrating the court where the Kenyan cases are concerned did not inspire confidence.
“It remains to be seen the extent to which that co-operation is actually provided. We have reason to believe that in the near future that co-operation will be tested,” Steynberg submitted to the three-judge bench presiding over Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang’s trial on Wednesday.
Deputy President Ruto however sought to dispel these fears by pointing out that his voluntary participation in the ICC process was proof enough of the Kenyan government’s goodwill.
“I came here voluntarily when summons were issued and it’s because I believe in the rule of law and I believe in fairness. Your honour, the fact that I am here and the fact that a democratically elected Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya is here is a confirmation that Kenya believes in the rule of law and belongs to the community of nations that are civilised,” Ruto stated before the bench.
The judges’ immediate concern was however not the legal implications of a pullout but the effect it would have on the prosecution witnesses’ willingness to testify before the court at the risk of reprisal.
And it was on this account that Steynberg quoted Kindiki in order to prove that the prosecution’s witnesses had reason to insist the court do everything in its power to keep their identities secret – including allowing them to testify in-camera.
“He (Kindiki) says the following: Mr. Speaker sir…what has happened is that a few people especially from the NGOs decided to convert the misery and tragedy that befell our country into a money minting business…we should all be ashamed as citizens,” he said quoting Kindiki’s contribution to the parliamentary debate on the withdrawal.
And while the Majority Leader may not be thrilled that his own words came back to bite his party leader, the Law Society of Kenya
Chairman, Eric Mutua, has called him out on his claim that the withdrawal just happened to coincide with President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto’s trials.
“A withdrawal would obviously impact the cases. Africa is the largest signatory to the Rome Statute and Kenya leading a pull-out was tailored to have an effect,” he told Capital FM News.
The arguments having been presented, it remains to be seen if the protective measures extended to Witness P0536 will be extended to all the prosecution’s witnesses.