Kenya petitions UN organ to delay trials

Thursday February 10 2011

UN Security Council members vote during a UN Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York. In a letter to the Security Council, the government argued that by making the names of the six Kenyans public before issuing the summonses, the ICC had already stigmatised them and compromised their right to a fair trial. Photo/FILE

UN Security Council members vote during a UN Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York. In a letter to the Security Council, the government argued that by making the names of the six Kenyans public before issuing the summonses, the ICC had already stigmatised them and compromised their right to a fair trial. Photo/FILE 

By NATION TEAM [email protected]

Kenya has formally written to the UN Security Council asking for the deferral of the Hague trials.

The letter requesting delaying of the cases facing six Kenyans, is written by Kenya’s Permanent Mission to the UN, which is based in New York, and is dated February 8.

It underscores the government’s resolve to have the cases facing the “Ocampo Six” deferred by one year to enable Kenya set up a credible judicial mechanism to try the suspects locally.

In the letter, the government argues that it is committed to trying the post-election violence suspects locally and is in the process of cleaning up its Judiciary to give it the required credibility to handle the cases.

“The grant of a deferral would allow sufficient time to revamp key judicial institutions and other governance infrastructure, placing the country well beyond the threshold of the Rome Statute.

“Further, the prosecution of post-election crimes at home would send a strong message both internally and externally that Kenya will no longer tolerate impunity,” the letter reads.

Already stigmatised

In the letter to the Security Council, the government argued that by making the names of the six Kenyans public before issuing the summonses, the ICC had already stigmatised them and compromised their right to a fair trial. (Read: Ocampo names Kenya chaos suspects)

The government further argued that since the ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo made the names public in mid-December, there had been a growing feeling in the country that the trials will not be impartial.

Meanwhile, the fate of the country’s effort to defer the ICC cases now rests with the African Union, Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Patrick Wamoto has said.

“Any resolution passed by the Heads of State calls for immediate action and the AU office in New York takes over the matter,” Mr Wamoto said.

But UN spokesman Yves Sorokobi said that the AU had not yet submitted a formal request for the deferral of the ICC cases to the UN Security Council.

Mr Sorokobi also said that this would mark “the first time for the council to arbitrate a dispute between an ICC state party and the ICC.”

At the same time, the government on Thursday denied that it had summoned envoys from select missions abroad for a meeting to strategise on ways of lobbying for the deferral of the Hague trials.

Officials at the Foreign Affairs ministry maintained that no ambassador or high commissioner based abroad had been summoned for a briefing on the Hague trials.

“I am not aware of that sort of thing, nobody has briefed me on that (issue), I’m completely in the dark,” Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka said on Thursday.

Reported by Peter Leftie, Sam Kumba and Kevin Kelley