ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan 31 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has thanked the African Union for supporting Kenya over the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He said the African Union’s solidarity, particularly the members of the Contact Group and the Commission Secretariat, ensured Africa and Kenya’s concerns were articulated at the 12th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the ICC in The Hague last year.
“With absolute dedication, you all firmly stood with Kenya during the ICC processes, which led to the unprecedented review of the Rules of Procedure to the Rome Statute,” the President said.
He was speaking on Friday at AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after the Contact Group presented its report on what transpired at the 12th ASP.
The Contact Group comprises members from Ethiopia, Mauritania, Senegal, Namibia and Rwanda.
“Rwanda, Togo and Morocco, the African Permanent members of the Security Council also worked with us, as did the delegations that went to the Assembly of State Parties,” he said.
The President noted that the AU has made significant progress in its proposals to amend the Rome Statute and urged for unity as the Union seeks further changes to the law.
He emphasised that the fight against impunity – including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – constitutes a fundamental principle in the basic law of the African Union and is part of the shared values that member states have committed to uphold.
“During the Extraordinary Session of the Summit held in October 2013, we reaffirmed our commitment to fight impunity, promote human rights and democracy, the rule of law and good governance,” the President said.
He said Kenya enacted a new Constitution that guarantees the protection and enjoyment of fundamental human rights. Kenyans approved the supreme law in 2010.
He said the new Constitution strengthened the institutional capacity of the Government to protect these rights and freedoms through extensive judicial and legislative reforms.
The President underscored the need to strengthen African institutional mechanisms to deal with international crimes.
“It is imperative that we finalize the outstanding issues on the Protocol to the African Charter on the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights to include international crimes,” he said.
A special AU summit last October resolved that no serving AU Head of State or anybody acting in such capacity should be exempted from prosecution by any international court or tribunal during their term in office.
Following the AU’s resolution, President Kenyatta has not attended ICC while Deputy President William Ruto has been granted partial excusal by the court.
In his statement at the 12th ASP meeting last year, Uganda’s Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Frederick Ruhindi, on behalf of the African Union, said the decision of the people of Kenya to elect the President and Deputy President should be respected.
“The time has come for both the ICC and UN Security Council to stop ignoring the voice of Africa and to give a satisfactory response to the request for deferral of the proceedings against the President and Deputy President of Kenya in accordance with Article 16 of the Rome Statute of the ICC,” Ruhindi said.