Kenyan minister joins Africa team in US to lobby for ICC deferral
Ms Amina Mohamed arrived in the US city on Sunday to join a high level delegation of the African Union Executive Council which is seeking to meet members of the UN Security Council over Kenya’s ICC deferral request.
Ethiopia’s Foreign minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chairman of the AU’s Executive Council, is leading about half a dozen top AU officials to put the case for deferral to Security Council members.
A UN diplomat who spoke to Daily Nation on condition of anonymity said the AU delegation is expected to meet individually with most council members to lobby for Kenya’s case.
“So far the Security Council members are listening and they may hold an informal session with the entire council on Oct 31,” said the diplomat.
Last Tuesday, the African Union secretariat wrote a letter to the United Nations Security Council seeking the deferral of the international criminal cases facing President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto.
The AU urged the Security Council to “positively” consider their request and expressed regret that previous requests “were not acted upon.”
And in another letter from the Kenyan Mission to the United Nations, Ambassador Macharia Kamau asked the Security Council to take into account threats to peace or an act of aggression “likely to transpire in light of the prevailing and continuing terrorist threat existing in the Horn of and eastern Africa.”
He argued that there was need to prevent “an aggravation to peace and security in Kenya and neighbouring countries.”
The envoy said a delay would provide time for Kenya to consult the International Criminal Court “to consider how best to respond to the threat to international peace and security in the context of the Kenya situation.”
“Kenya therefore seeks action of the United Nations Security Council to prevent the aggravation of the threat, breach of peace or act of aggression that the terrorism menace poses to national, regional, continental and international peace and security,” Kamau said.
STRONGLY WORDED LETTER
Last May, Mr Kamau wrote a strongly worded letter to the Security Council which sought the termination of the Kenyan cases, citing possible violence in Kenya if the proceedings in The Hague were not halted.
But when the Kenyan deferral request was discussed by the 15 council members in, eight were opposed and seven were more sympathetic.
Amb Amina Mohamed argues that following the move by members of the African Union to back Kenya in its quest, The Security Council should see the gravity of the matter and grant the East African nation its request.
“Kenya requires her leader to be in full control of the country in her fight against terror, especially in the wake of the Westgate mall attack in which at least 67 people were killed by Islamic extremists,” she said in a recent media statement.
However, some diplomats within the United Nations circles have expressed pessimism over whether there will be a major shift in the Security Council.
“The council previously rejected this bid for impunity because there’s no basis to stop the case,” Richard Dicker, director of international justice at Human Rights Watch, said in a media briefing in New York on Monday.
“For the victims, for the witnesses, and for the dangerous precedent that could be sent, we expect the council to again reject Kenya’s request for a deferral.”
The Security Council has fifteen members and for Kenya to get a deferral, the UN body would have to pass a resolution which would require a minimum of nine “yes” votes and no veto by a permanent member — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France.
The move by the African Union member States to seek deferral as an entity has no precedence and is therefore being watched keenly by different stake holders and political scientists.
The Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court mandates the UN Security Council to refer can refer cases to the court, and, if deemed necessary, to defer an investigation or a prosecution for up to a year.