The International Criminal Court rejected a government attempt to have a case against six prominent Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity dismissed the day after the court’s prosecutor slammed Kenya for trying to protect the alleged criminals.
On Monday judges at the ICC in The Hague rejected a petition from Kenya’s government to throw out the cases against six men – including deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta and other top politicians – accused of masterminding the tribal violence that killed 1,200 people after disputed elections in late 2007.
Since the announcement of the names of the six suspects in December sections of Kenya’s coalition government, put in place to end the violence in 2008, have expended huge effort to stymie the judicial process.
The government argues that it the ICC investigation infringes its sovereignty and that a new constitution voted on last year means Kenya will have a functioning legal system capable of prosecutions.
The judges in The Hague however found that Kenya had so far done nothing to begin investigations of its own and, while it was full of promises of future action, was in fact currently in a “situation of inactivity”.
The ruling is a blow to the senior politicians who have pulled together to protect their own ahead of elections due next year. A headline in the local paper The Standard, read: “Why Ocampo six now on their own” above a story about the ruling.
The judges’ decision came the day after Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo complained in a statement that, “high ranking members of the government are misrepresenting ICC efforts to do justice for the victims as an attack against Kenyan sovereignty.”
He said the government actions were “promoting a growing climate of fear that is intimidating potential witnesses and ultimately undermining national and international investigations”.
“My question to the Kenyan government is this: does the government of Kenya want justice for the victims?” Moreno-Ocampo said.
“We need an unequivocal answer, an answer that Kenyans and the world could understand. Is the government of Kenya protecting witnesses or protecting the suspects from investigation?”
So far there has been no answer from the government here.