UN council to consider Kenya deferral request

Tuesday April 5 2011

A past session of the United Nations Security Council. The council is set to hold discussions Friday on Kenya's request for a deferral of the International Criminal Court cases against the Ocampo Six April 5, 2011. FILE

A past session of the United Nations Security Council. The council is set to hold discussions Friday on Kenya's request for a deferral of the International Criminal Court cases against the Ocampo Six April 5, 2011. FILE  

By KEVIN KELLEY

The United Nations Security Council is set to hold discussions Friday on Kenya's request for a deferral of the International Criminal Court cases against the Ocampo Six.

Colombia UN ambassador Nestor Osorio, whose country holds the council's rotating presidency in April, made the announcement at a news conference on Monday in which he outlined the council's monthly programme.

The move to include Kenya's request on the council's agenda could be seen as a diplomatic victory for the government.

Formal consideration of the Kenyan position by UN coincides with a long-running effort carried out by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to rally international support for local trials against the post poll violence suspects.

Kenya still faces long odds, however, in gaining the council's consent for a one-year hold on the planned proceedings in the Hague.

The 15-nation body will factor into its deliberations on Friday, a March 23 letter from Kenya's UN ambassador Macharia Kamau stating that the Orange Democratic Movement has “adopted a decision to push for the International Criminal Court cases relating to Kenya to be handled locally through a credible local mechanism.”

Ambassador Kamau notes in the letter that Security Council members had previously expressed concern that “Kenya’s request did not seem to enjoy the support of both sides of the coalition government.”

The country's UN envoy was referring to the March 18 “interactive dialogue” between Kenya and the council's membership.

At that unofficial meeting, Kenya outlined its request for a deferral of the ICC cases in accordance with Article 16 of the Romec Statue that set up the court. It allows the council to approve a one-year deferral of ICC proceedings when the body decides that international peace and security would be jeopardised.

France's representative on the Security Council said after the March 18 session that Kenya's request did not appear to meet those conditions.

In addition, the United States, along with France and the United Kingdom, has expressed opposition to an Article 16 deferral for Kenya. Any of those three permanent members of the Security Council can veto a move to grant a deferral.

Ambassador Kamau argues in his letter last month to the council president that a deferral “would greatly enhance the ability of the country to complete its reform programme, including putting in place a local tribunal".

Such an alternative to trials in the Hague would be in keeping with Kenya's “primary responsibility” to investigate and prosecute cases in accordance with the ICC treaty, Ambassador Kamau adds.