, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Kenya, has called for public participation before a decision to quit the International Criminal Court is made.
The commission’s Executive Director Samwel Mohochi told a press conference on Friday that Kenya’s withdrawal from the court would set a bad precedence hence the need to carefully consider the matter.
“ICJ Kenya is cognizant of the justifications for adoption of the Rome Statute that led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC),” he said.
“The country risks setting bad precedent should it repeal the Internationals Crimes Act 2008 and should Kenya renegade on commitments made with regards to international law obligations.”
Reacting to the government’s intention to quit the court, the commission said there is need for Kenyans to be involved in the process leading to the withdrawal from the court, arguing that members of the public must have a say on the matter.
“Parliament and the Executive must renew their constitutional commitment to fulfil international commitments and any digression there from should be upon exhaustive public participation,” added Mohochi.
During Jamhuri Day celebration on Monday, President Kenyatta indicated the government was considering two motions passed by Parliament for withdrawal from the court saying it lacked respect for sovereignty of member countries.
“We have sought the changes that will align the ICC to respect for national sovereignty. Those changes have not been forthcoming. We will therefore need to give serious thought to our membership,” said the President during the national celebration in commemoration of the 53rd anniversary of birth of the Republic.
According to President Kenyatta, the court had failed to provide equal respect for nations calling into question its impartiality in resolving cases involving international crimes against humanity – the sole role for which it was established.
“We are not the world’s richest or most powerful nation, but we are entitled to an equal share of respect for our nationhood, our sovereignty, and our laws,” noted the President.
The President who was once indicted at the ICC on accusations of involvement in the 2007/08 post election violence also noted with concern the manner in which the court was being misused to impose leaders to a few nations by global powers – most of whom are not party to the court.
“The Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court have ended but the experience has given us cause to observe that this institution has become a tool of global power politics and not the justice it was built to dispense,” said the President.
The Bill seeking to have the country pull out of the Rome Statute was tabled in Parliament in June by Bumula legislator Boniface Otsiula amid divided opinion on whether or not Kenya should pull out.
The clamour for withdrawal from the took a new lease of life in April 2016, following the dismissal of the remaining two cases at the court involving Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang on grounds of insufficient evidence with the other four cases having suffered a similar fate.