Kenya pushes Bensouda on Ruto case

By: BERNARD NAMUNANE

The Kenyan delegation at the Assembly of State Parties forum Thursday met International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and impressed upon her their opposition to the use of recanted evidence against Deputy President William Ruto.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and her Defence counterpart Raychelle Omamo engaged Ms Bensouda, as a team of MPs met the state parties President Sidi Kaba to seek assurances that Kenya’s concerns will be debated adequately at Friday’s session.

But as Kenya heightened its lobbying, some 30 non-governmental organisations urged the assembly not to use the eight-day meeting at The Hague to discuss cases that were pending before the court.

Leaders of Kenya’s civil society George Kegoro and Gladwell Otieno said they were surprised by the determined push by African countries (except Botswana) to have Rule 68 reversed.

The rule has placed Mr Ruto’s fate at The Hague in jeopardy.

Ms Mohamed and Ms Omamo met the ICC Prosecutor to explain the position taken by Kenya and other African countries at the assembly.

This was art of the preparations for Friday’s debate on Rule 68 (which allows use of evidence denied by witnesses) and the request to set up an inquiry into how prosecution witnesses were identified.

The meeting took place at a session with ministers from African countries on the sidelines of the assembly’s forum.

Ms Omamo urged Ms Bensouda to understand the concerns of the Africa Union members, who she argued, hold sway over the court’s future.

“We want to be respected because we have a stake as member states,” she said.

COURT INTERFERENCE

Ms Bensouda explained that the court was not targeting Africa but was carrying out its duty of ending the culture of impunity in the continent and other parts of the world.

By: doing so, she was not going against her mother continent. “I am no less Pan Africanist, after all,” she said.

On Friday, two items which Kenya succeeded in having included in the assembly’s agenda will be discussed. Numerous proposals will be debated.

Court President Silvia Fernandez and Ms Bensouda have opposed discussion of cases which are before the judges, warning that it would be tantamount to interfering with the independence of the court.

“It is respectfully submitted that in accordance with the role of the assembly and separation of powers of the Rome Statute system, the assembly must refrain from any action that interferes with judicial independence,” they said in a letter to Mr Kaba dated November 13.

Kenya has argued that debating issues surrounding Mr Ruto’s case at The Hague was not sub judice.

During the MPs’ meeting with Mr Kaba, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale explained that Kenya wanted Rule 68 reviewed because of the way it has been applied by the judges and the Prosecutor.

Mr Kaba, in his response, said that the two items had been included on the agenda and will be debated Friday.

“I have heard you and be assured you will be heard since I will be chairing the session handling this matter,” he said.

Mr Kegoro urged Mr Kaba to resist the overtures of the government delegation and ensure that justice was served.

“Sidiki Kaba will need to be very strong during the debate on Kenyan issues,” he said in his twitter handle.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION