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United Nations Security Should Disregard African Union Deferral Resolution on Kenya Situation

International Criminal Court (ICC) is not a court of convenience, to be supported only when it is politically expedient.  African leaders’ seems to celebrate when African victims of grave human rights are suffering. Otherwise why do these leaders really want to side with the alleged perpetrators of mass atrocities rather than their victims? International Center for Policy and Conflict said told,

Most people in African continent are children of war caused mostly by autocratic African leaders’ bad government. United Nations Security Council must understand that justice for mass atrocities is intimately personal. In most African countries dignity, peace and justice have proved illusory explaining the overwhelmingly support of the ICC by the African people contrary to the political leadership in the Continent.

Further, Kenya national judicial systems, just like other parts of the Continent, are extremely weak making it difficult to prosecute powerful people. After all Kenya is part of an international system. In sharp contrasts to the countries like Argentina and Chile that have successfully reconstructed their judicial and investigatory systems, and effectively prosecuted leaders accused of international crimes, attempts at rebuilding such independent national institutions in Kenya, and Africa at large, is highly compromised.

While the ICC was intended to be a court of last resort-to be used only after national systems proved unwilling or unable to prosecute gross violations-this has not worked well in Africa, where the capacity to try such crimes is needed most.  There would be less need for the ICC to engage in Africa if the continent’s governments did a better job of bringing to justice those responsible for mass atrocities within their rank and file.

Rather than opposing the Court’s work, Kenya and African Union could better address its unease by ensuring closer coordination among African governments, the ICC and the United Nations to make sure the Court works well and addresses Africa peoples’ concerns. More importantly, the African Union must translate its rhetoric against impunity into a programme of action, showing that African lives matter and that it will not issue a free pass to those-big or small-who violate Africans.

We believe the Court will help to end high-level impunity for mass atrocities, enabling Kenya to attain the best Kenyans are capable of. “Peace before justice” argument serves to perpetuate impunity. Unless indicted war criminals are held to account, regardless of their rank, others tempted to emulate them will not be deterred, and African people will suffer.

ICC has created very important legal innovations. It has also met widespread support in Kenya and continently with many Africans working at the court, including as judges. There have also been important precedents for the rights of victims. Unlike trials before the international tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, trials at the ICC allow victims the right to be represented by an attorney and to apply for reparations to be paid through an international victims’ trust fund.

In this regard, we are urging the United Nations Security Council to vehemently disregard African Union resolution to support attempts at deferring Kenya situation. Instead we are advising the Council to encourage Kenya to engage directly with the Court through the mechanisms set out by the Rome Statute.