Kenya ICC deferral bid fails

Saturday April 9 2011

A past session of the United Nations Security Council. Kenya failed in a bid on Friday to persuade the Council to suspend International Criminal Court crimes against humanity charges against six top Kenyan officials April 8, 2011. FILE

A past session of the United Nations Security Council. Kenya failed in a bid on Friday to persuade the Council to suspend International Criminal Court crimes against humanity charges against six top Kenyan officials April 8, 2011. FILE  

By KEVIN KELLEY

The United Nations Security Council reached an impasse on Friday on Kenya's request for a deferral of the Ocampo Six cases.

“After full consideration, the members of the Security Council did not agree on the matter,” council President Nestor Osorio told reporters following closed-door consultations by the 15-nation body.

Asked if that meant the deferral request is dead, Ambassador Osorio declined to speak so categorically. He did say the matter is concluded “for the time being.”

Diplomats privately indicate, however, that the deferral request will almost certainly not be revived at the UN due to the council's clear inability to come to a positive consensus.

As long as the United States remains opposed to a deferral — a position restated on April 5 by Gen Scott Gration, President Obama's choice as ambassador to Kenya—there is no chance of the UN opening a route to allowing a local tribunal try the six cases.

The United States, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, can veto any action by the body.

Kenyan UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau took solace from the council not having explicitly rejected Kenya's request.

In an interview with the Nation outside the Security Council's chambers, Mr Kamau said Kenya had been treated with respect. “The matter was dealt with in the seriousness it deserves,” he noted.

Ambassador Osorio of Colombia, who is serving as council president for April, said in his remarks to the press that “every single one of the council's members” had spoken Friday on the Kenyan request.

Friday's standoff “does not mean it's finished,” Ambassador Kamau said. But he suggested in regard to the Kenyan government that “the moment has arrived for us to regroup and ask where we are going next.”

Although Ambassador Kamau was not invited to attend Friday's session, the council considered new information he made available in the form of two recent letters.

In the first, dated March 23, he called attention to the Orange Democratic Movement's decision to “push for the International Criminal Court cases relating to Kenya to be handled locally through a credible local mechanism.”

And in a letter sent to the council on Thursday, Mr Kamau responded to several questions raised at an “interactive dialogue” that took place at UN headquarters on March 18.

About two-thirds of the Security Council's members had on that occasion made queries about specific aspects of Kenya's position, the ambassador noted.