NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 23 – The Cabinet holds the final say on whether Kenya will withdraw from International Criminal Court (ICC) after MPs approved an exit from the Rome Statute in 2013.
Speaking during his weekly news conference, State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the decision on the matter which has gathered traction over the past week after South Africa officially notified the court of its decision to leave the court lay squarely with the Cabinet.
“To withdraw from a treaty, you need an Executive deliberation and then Cabinet directs the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General to prepare the appropriate instruments and deposit them with the relevant authorities. These processes have not come up,” he said.
Esipisu added: “So, it is accurate to say that a decision of the Executive is pending.”
MPs have twice passed a resolution urging the government to take steps to “immediately” withdraw from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.
The African Union has accused the court of unfairly targeting Africans for prosecution citing the failed cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, for allegedly masterminding deadly post-election violence in 2007-2008 in which about 1,200 people died.
South Africa’s decision followed a dispute last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited the country for an African Union summit despite facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes.
South Africa refused to arrest him, saying he had immunity as a Head of State.
Burundi is also set to quit the court after President Pierre Nkurunziza signed legislation enabling the country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.
A copy of the law dated October 18 allows “the Republic of Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome statute”, the ICC’s founding treaty.
The next step will be for the country to officially notify the United Nations, launching a year-long departure process that will make the country the first ever to quit the tribunal.
Burundi’s lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favour of the move on October 12, its latest snub of the international community after the release of a damning UN report in September detailing atrocities and warning of “genocide”.
In January, Kenya announced it was committing Sh90 million towards the establishment of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, the continent’s version of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
President Uhuru Kenyatta told the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that continent should not wait for the reform of the ICC “when we have the power, and indeed the duty, to take our destiny into our own hands”.
The Head of State said the ICC poses a grave risk to peace and security not only in Africa, but to the whole world.