Kenya’s push to shield heads of state from ICC prosecution still on

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Kenya is renewing its effort to amend the International Criminal Court treaty in order to exempt sitting heads of state from prosecution, the country’s United Nations ambassador said on Friday.

The ICC’s recent moves to postpone indefinitely its proceedings against President Uhuru Kenyatta and to exempt Deputy President William Ruto from daily attendance at his trial have not fully satisfied Kenya, Ambassador Macharia Kamau said.

“Just because we have made significant progress on these matters does not mean we are home and dry,” the envoy told theNation.

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“Both cases on the president and his deputy remain at the ICC and we will not relent until both matters are resolved to the satisfaction of African heads of state and the government and people of Kenya,” he added.

It is understood that the ICC governing body – the Assembly of State Parties – was urged last week to give immediate attention to Kenya’s request, which is supported by the African Union.

Kenya and the AU are also seeking a formal change in another ICC treaty provision that requires defendants to be present throughout their trials at The Hague.

Assembly President Tiina Intelmann is said to have indicated in response that the grouping of the ICC’s 122 member nations is likely to begin considering the proposed amendments in February.

Kenya and the AU had wanted the Assembly of State Parties to approve the two amendments at its meeting last November.

SUBMITTED LATE

But the proposals were submitted too late to be considered in accordance with the assembly’s timetable for offering ICC treaty amendments.

The assembly did agree, however, to change ICC procedural rules so that high-ranking government officials can potentially be excused from portions of their trials.

That action was seen as a victory for the Kenyan government’s lobbying campaign.

Human rights groups remain opposed to the attempt to exempt heads of state from prosecution by the ICC.

“Victims and their families should not be denied justice because individuals hold powerful positions,” Human Rights Watch has declared.

The Kenyan/AU effort to change this article of the ICC treaty will not be easily achieved.

Amendments to the treaty must first win approval from two-thirds of the members of the Assembly of State Parties and then be ratified by seven-eighths of those 122 countries.-nation.co.ke

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