ICC warns against talk on Ruto case as member states meet today

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has warned against discussion of ongoing cases at today’s Assembly of State Parties (ASP) meeting, including Kenya’s attempt to reverse a rule on recanted evidence.

The ICC president, registrar and prosecutor have written to the ASP president, Sidiki Kaba, saying that some of the issues proposed for discussion are currently before the court and hence sub judice (prohibited from public discussion).

Kenya is seeking support to have the rule on recanted evidence placed on the agenda and have it reversed, saying that it has been used aersely in a case facing Deputy President William Ruto.

“The Assembly must refrain from any action that interferes with the ICC’s judicial independence in this respect, or gives the perception thereof,” said a letter by Silvia Fernandez (president), Fatou Bensouda (prosecutor) and Herman von Hebel (registrar)

“The appropriate forum to discuss and contest judicial matters is in the judicial proceedings before the Court.”

The provision on recanted evidence (Rule 68) which allows the prosecution to use recanted testimonies from hostile witnesses was adopted in 2013.

READ: UN urges Kenya to respect Rome Statute

Lawyers representing Mr Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang have contested application of the rule before the court, arguing that it cannot be applied for crimes allegedly committed before it was passed. In response to the appeal filed by Mr Ruto and Mr Sang, the prosecutor two weeks ago denied that she had promised not to use Rule 68 in 2013 when it was adopted.

The ASP is the management oversight and legislative body of the ICC composed of representatives of the countries that have ratified the Rome Statute. Each state party has one representative who holds one vote. The ASP will open today and run for 10 days.

Kenya has been lobbying for member states to overturn Rule 68 with President Uhuru Kenyatta recently meeting several heads of states from the Caribbean to secure their support during the Assembly.

Mr Ruto and Mr Sang are facing charges of crimes against humanity arising from the 2007-08 post-election violence.