Envoy criticises US position on ICC trials

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Kenya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Macharia Kamau, has termed the United States position on the deferral of International Criminal Court cases as “peculiar”.

Mr Kamau said on Monday that it is peculiar for the United States to be urging Kenya to take its concerns about the International Criminal Court cases to the ICC’s Assembly of State Parties, adding that only the United Nations Security Council, and not the ICC has no power to defer cases.

The Security Council is expected to consider later this week a resolution granting a deferral that is being sponsored by the council’s three African members: Rwanda, Togo and Morocco.

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Mr Kamau further observed that the US is not a member of the Assembly of State Parties because it has not endorsed the Rome Statute. “How can it know how this assembly operates?” he posed, “This is terribly peculiar.”

A State Department official told the Nation last week that “[The US] encourages Kenya and the African Union to continue to work through the ICC and the Assembly of State Parties to address their concerns.”

US ‘COULD BE PERSUADED’

Despite this indication of US opposition to the Security Council resolution, Mr Kamau said on Monday he believes Washington could be persuaded to support deferral.

“The United States is one of the most pragmatic countries on earth,” he said, citing its “flexible” engagement with Egypt and Syria as examples.

“US policy is not frozen in time, and neither is it frozen in a single decision,” he said. “The US observes, reflects and usually calibrates its actions according to its interests and the interests of the international community.”

According to Mr Kamau, the council should use its power, granted under Article 16 of the Rome Statute, to defer the ICC cases in the interest of maintaining international peace and security, with Kenya facing a threat from al-Shabaab militants in the wake of the Westgate attack.

Security Council members speaking in opposition to deferral at an informal council session last week had indicated, Mr Kamau said, that they were loathe “to break the seal on Article 16.”

That provision has not been used since the Rome Statute took effect in 2002.

Reluctance to invoke Article 16 “demonstrates once again why the Security Council is under so much criticism for being unable to address issues pertaining to international peace and security,” Mr Kamau said.-nation

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