NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 17 – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has faulted the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for failing to listen to the African voice in its decision on the Kenya cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Addressing the press in Colombo, Sri Lanka where she was attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, Mohamed said Africa cannot put its destiny in the hands of a Council that does not take it seriously.
“What is disappointing is that for the first time Africa actually came together and went to the Security Council with only one issue but it was turned down. This means the Council does not take seriously what Africa takes seriously,” Mohamed said.
She said it was disturbing that some of the members, who abstained, leading to the UNSC’s rejection of the African Union’s request on the Kenyan ICC cases, were not State Parties to the Rome Statute.
“Article 16 puts the fate of member States of the Rome Statute in the hands of non-members, which is also an anomaly, it does not happen in any other international instrument,” she said.
She said following the decision, the African Union will be heading to the assembly of State Parties of the Rome Statute that begins on November 20 in The Hague to present its position on the Kenyan ICC cases.
“We are going to listen to the State Parties at The Hague. Most of them have pledged to support the African position,” Mohamed said.
The Rome Statute establishing the ICC contains a provision, Article 16 that allows the UN Security Council to pass a resolution to defer an ICC investigation or prosecution for a renewable period of 12 months.
The UNSC on Friday rejected an African demand to suspend the International Criminal Court crimes against humanity trials of Kenya’s top two leaders, sparking a diplomatic storm.
The draft resolution said the court case is “distracting and preventing” Kenyatta and Ruto from carrying out their duties. Eight council nations, all ICC members or supporters including Britain, France and the United States, abstained to ensure the failure of the bid.
In their explanation The United States (US), Britain and France said that Africa’s push for the deferral of the Kenyan ICC cases should be put before the Assembly of States Parties due to start in The Hague on Wednesday.
The envoy said that the UK did not think the United Nations Security Council was the right place to address Africa’s concerns, hence their abstention at the vote.
In a statement, Britain’s UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant said that during the meeting, time will be devoted to addressing the African Union’s concerns.
He pointed out that the UK fully understood the desire to allow President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities and that they are engaged and prepared to address those concerns.
“The Assembly of States Parties meets in five days time. A dedicated segment will be devoted to addressing the African Union’s concerns.
Preparatory work is already under way and a number of amendments have been tabled, including one by the United Kingdom on presence through video technology,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power who said that the concerns raised by Kenya regarding the ICC proceedings are best addressed within the framework of the Court and its Assembly of States Parties, and not through a deferral mandated by the Security Council.
“We are also encouraged that the Assembly of States Parties, which includes the government of Kenya, is working to enable trial proceedings to be conducted in a manner that will not force the defendants to choose between mounting a vigorous legal defense on the one hand and continuing to do their jobs on the other,” she stated.
On Saturday, Deputy President William Ruto said that the UN Security Council’s vote of Africa’s demand to suspend the International Criminal Court trials of Kenya’s top two leaders was a clear indication of who the country’s true friends were.
Ruto stated that the outcome was not surprising and described it as inconsequential.
“What happened yesterday at UNSC is a clear testimony of who the true friends of Kenya were. It was expected and we are not surprised by the outcome. The resolution was a side issue,” he stated.
He however thanked nations that voted for the request and stated that their deed will not be forgotten.