Thursday, February 17, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #21

This week the media's gaze remains focused on Kenya and the attempts of President Kibaki and named ICC suspects to gain a U.N. Security Council deferral for Kenya's post-election violence. Reportedly 29 civil society groups have begun lobbying the government to cease its deferral efforts, have urged the President to dismiss Kenyatta and Ruto (named by the ICC) from his cabinet and, most importantly, have insisted that he stop working closely with the suspects.

Many are concerned that the suspects had a hand in selecting new members of the judiciary which, if a domestic tribunal is created, would essentially amount to the perpetrators selecting the investigators, prosecutors and judges that will ultimately decide their cases. Furthermore, opposition leader and Prime Minister Odinga claims that he was not sufficiently consulted in the process. Reportedly many civil society organizations do not think that Kenya will succeed in proving to the Security Council that a deferral is necessary for international peace or security concerns. Nevertheless, Kibaki, Kenyatta, Ruto and their supporters continue to rally support for a U.N. Security Council deferral. Kibaki recently met with a number of envoys from Security Council states presumably to discuss the deferral. Last week the Minister on Foreign Affairs wrote to all permanent and observer nations of the security council seeking support for the deferral saying that it will allow a local mechanism to come into existence. This move is contrary to the advice of several top advisors who say that achieving a deferral is highly improbable; the suspects are better served by spending their time and resources in crafting a strong defense.

Many Kenyans, including victims of post-election violence, are reportedly relieved that a deferral will most likely not be achieved because they do not believe that a credible tribunal will be created domestically. For them, the attempts to avoid ICC prosecution combined with the fact that the perpetrators remain powerful and respected political actors despite their possible guilt, show that Kenya is not serious about bringing those responsible to justice. This view is shared by a significant segment of society, as shown by a recent poll finding that 57% of Kenyans still want those most responsible to be tried at the ICC and 61% are against attempts to pull out of the ICC. Although the deferral attempt is the most widely publicized attempt, those named by the ICC have also made other efforts to escape the proceedings. Mr. Sang, a named journalist, has filed documents at the Court accusing the Prosecutor of acting out of ulterior motives and seeks several orders from the court that would prevent the issuance of summons, if only temporarily. William Ruto also made an application to the Court to prevent the issuance of summons, which was recently rejected by ICC judges. The judges did, however, scold Ocampo for having released the name of former Police Commissioner Ali before the judges ruled on the status of his application.

In other news, witness testimony continues in the ICC's Jean-Pierre Bemba trial. A witness testified yesterday that Bemba's soldiers shot civilians out of anger after losing a battle to CAR soldiers. It appears that the Philippines may be on its way to becoming a state party to the ICC. The nation signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but has yet to ratify it. Reportedly the primary government agency opposed to the ratification has recently changed its stance, just in time for the ICC President's visit scheduled for next month. Many hope that the treaty will now be ratified without delay. Video Credits: Capital FM.

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