NEW YORK, Thursday
Kenya has opposed proposals to establish a special police force and tracking unit to enforce arrests and asset freezing for the International Criminal Court.
“ICC does not need or require a police force,” said Mr Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s ambassador to the UN, adding that the responsibility needs to be entrusted to individual countries. He pointed out that even the UN had not agreed on establishing a standing army for peacekeeping.
Mr Kamau made the remarks during the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute debate on cooperation with the ICC as diplomats singled out non-cooperation as the single most important obstacle before court.
Speakers regretted that the ICC was not receiving the help it needed in what appeared to be an oblique criticism of Kenya.
“We were shocked when we were faced with the prospect of our country being brought to this ASP for non-cooperation,” said Mr Kamau in reference to the ICC prosecutor’s application to have the judges refer Kenya to the Assembly of States Parties for sanctions.
Although the judges declined to make the referral, the prosecutor this week sought leave to appeal the decision.
The civil society coalition Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ), said the question of whether Kenya had made a good-faith effort to cooperate with the ICC should be considered in light of the country’s failure to fulfil its obligations under the Statute, including any obstruction of access to relevant witnesses and documentary evidence and must be seen in the context of the efforts by the leadership of the country to support the court.
“If the court and state parties can come under such pressure as we have seen, you can imagine what pressure victims, witnesses and organisations working on promoting accountability experience on a daily basis,” Ms Stella Ndirangu.
LACK OF RESPECT
Speaking soon after Mr Kamau, the Guatemalan ambassador to the UN said, “We are concerned by the lack of respect for the court’s independence. Cooperation is an obligation under the Rome Statute meant to deliver witness protection, effective investigation, collection of evidence, as well as arrest and surrender of suspects."
The session began with testimonies of how the Central African Republic, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo had cooperated with the ICC in investigations, arrests and surrender of suspects.
Still, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda explained that cooperation between the court and states faced key challenges, including lack of forensic and other evidence, as well as the passage of time.
“Cooperation can be challenging, but it is also the solution,” said Ms Bensouda.
"The survivors of sexual and gender-based violence have been let down by the latest decisions — which undermine acknowledgment, reparations and justice," said Susannah Sirkin, head of Physicians for Human Rights.
She added that her organisation’s time-series analysis had established that sexual and gender-based crimes occurred on a massive scale in the Rift Valley during the post-2007 election crisis.
However, Mr Kamau insisted that cooperation had to be defined in a manner that is consistent with universal norms. He added that terms such as cooperation and non-essential contact were loose.
“Our country will always remain, and must be seen to remain, a forceful, engaging, purposeful member of the Rome Statute. Nothing we have done should be deemed as lack of cooperation without tangible evidence,” he added.
KPTJ representatives urged the ASP to remember that determining whether a party has fully cooperated with the court remains the sole mandate of the judges of the court based on their assessment of submissions before the court.