Kenya intensifies lobbying efforts at ASP as Bensouda holds her ground
By Philip Murutu
The Kenyan delegation will on Friday be tasked to argue their case at the ongoing 14th Assembly of State Parties (ASP) at The Hague as it seeks to reverse the use of Rule 68 on prior recorded testimony and audit of International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution witnesses in the cases against Deputy President William Ruto and Journalist Joshua arap Sang.
Since Thursday, Kenya has been lobbying for support from member states of the Rome Statute, especially from the 34 African states, on the same matter.
Speaking during the assembly, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed stated that African countries are committed to the fight against international crime.
“African countries represent a third of the members present at the ASP, hence then notion that we lack the political will to fight against international crimes is a fallacy,” stated the CS.
Kenya and South Africa have joined forces at the ASP, with both countries putting pressure on the criminal court to change how it deals with African states.
In June, the ICC rebuked South Africa for not extraditing Sudan’s leader, Omar al-Bashir, when he was in the country in for Nelson Mandela’s burial.
On Friday, their efforts intensify with only hours to the discussion of the Kenya’s agenda in the afternoon. Kenya has once again threatened to withdraw from the Rome Statute if the assembly of state parties will not agree to Kenya’s agenda.
The outcome of the lobbying will determine whether Kenya will manage to stop the use of recanted witness testimonies in the case facing DP William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang’s at the ICC.
Not backing down
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who had earlier warned delegates not to discuss matters that are before the court, said that the ICC would not tolerate those attempting to pervert the course of justice.
“It is my firm conviction that it is important to send a clear message that tampering with witnesses will have consequences and that perverting the course of justice will be not be tolerated.
In response to the intense lobbying on the Kenyan cases before the ICC, Bensouda stated that she will maintain independence in the execution of her duties.
“As prosecutor I cannot and will not shy away from my duties and responsibilities under the Rome Statue. I must exert prosecutorial independence in the discharge of this mandate,” affirmed the Bensouda.
Following the contested 2007 general elections violence broke out in numerous places across the country. After failed attempts to bring perpetrators to book in Kenya, the matter was referred to the ICC as Kenya is a signatory to the Rome Statute.
In 2013 ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced that he was seeking summonses for six people who were deemed to borne the greatest responsibility for the violence.
William Ruto, Uhuru Kenyatta, Henry Kosgey, Francis Muthaura, Joshua Arap Sang and Mohammed Hussein Ali were brought before the court to answer charges of crimes against humanity.
Currently, only two of the Ocampo Six are still facing charges at the ICC.
Additional information by Joy Chelagat
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