Charges of racism against the International Criminal Court are “specious,” the New York Times declared in an editorial on Sunday.
The Times, considered one of the most influential newspapers in the United States, said the ICC launched proceedings against President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto “because Kenyans refused to initiate their own process to ensure accountability for the victims of the violence that followed the 2007 election.”
The Times traced the steps that led to the filing of charges in The Hague.
It noted the involvement of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the establishment of a Kenyan commission of inquiry that called for creation of a special tribunal to adjudicate crimes committed in the aftermath of the election.
“After the Kenyan Parliament twice rejected proposals to create a tribunal, the case went to the ICC prosecutor,” the Times recounted.
The editorial acknowledged that “there are indeed real questions about why charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity have not been pressed elsewhere — in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”
“While the court may be flawed,” the Times added, “it is the last resort to deliver justice for victims of conflict in countries that lack the capacity or will to do so themselves.”
Noting the African Union’s accusation that the ICC is targeting Africans, the newspaper suggested that what the AU “should have focused on, and applauded, is that the court is also defending Africans, including the 1,100 Kenyans slaughtered in 2007-8.”
The AU has opposed President Kenyatta’s trial at The Hague. Except for Botswana, all presidents, prime ministers and representatives of government at an extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa in October appended their signature to the resolution.
The ICC prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, has opposed the trial of President Kenyatta in Kenya — warning it would trigger mass protests by his supporters.
“The prosecution (has) expressed concern about the ongoing campaign to rally members of the public against the ICC and derail the Kenyatta case,” she says. “The prosecution stated that it does not discount the risk that if portions of the trial were held in Kenya or Tanzania, demonstrations against the court could interrupt or intentionally delay the proceedings.”
MPs, on the other hand, have in the past lobbied for Kenya’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, although such a pull-out would have little impact on the cases.-Daily Nation