, THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Nov 22 – Kenya has notified the United Nations Secretary General of its intention to pursue amendments to the Rome Statute to exclude a sitting president from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
Foreign Secretary Amina Mohamed told reporters at the ongoing Assembly of States Parties (ASP) that Kenya was now collaborating with working groups to reach a consensus on the wording of the amendments.
“What happened yesterday (when the ASP agreed to debate the immunity proposal) was historic,” she said and added “we are pursuing amendments to Article 27 and 134 of the statute,” Mohamed said.
Article 27 in its current form does not recognise official capacity which Kenya wants amended to grant immunity to a sitting president.
She emphasised that Kenya was not running away from the ICC and would continue cooperating with the court. “The Deputy President arrived yesterday (in The Hague) and is already in court today,” she said to emphasise Kenya’s position.
She went on to pay tribute to those who took part in the debate including the civil society saying it was necessary to ventilate all issues of concern.
“We need a scenario where we can govern the country and meet our international obligations,” she said.
She said it was erroneous to accuse the government of neglecting victims arguing that it was evident there were efforts to re-settle those affected by the post-election violence while at the same time protecting the rights of accused persons.
Kenya made spirited efforts on Thursday for granting of immunity to a sitting president arguing that it posed a threat regional peace.
Attorney General Githu Muigai said Kenya was a lynchpin for the region’s 250 million people and that the charges facing President Uhuru Kenyatta posed a threat to security in the region. “The international community should not play Russian roulette with security.”
“If immunity of a Head of State is good enough for the democratic sphere, then it is good for the international sphere,” the AG stressed.
He added: “The ICC was not supposed to have a licence to act in a way that is politically or socially irresponsible.”
Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko dispelled claims that Kenya was doing little to prosecute middle level perpetrators saying 1,200 cases have been taken to court.
He also said there was cooperation with the court which was given access to conduct its work freely in Kenya.
“Cooperation is a two-way street. Why hasn’t the ICC been cooperating with us?” he posed.
Civil society organisations led by ICJ’s George Kegoro, Njonjo Mue and George Morara of the Kenya Human Rights Commission however objected the proposed changes saying it would promote impunity.