TONE DOWN ANTI-ICC RHETORIC, LAWYERS ADVISE UHURU

uhuru-mainNAIROBI, KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta has been advised to tone down his public criticism of the International Criminal Court while his case is still ongoing

Several lawyers who spoke to the Standard yesterday asserted that it is not in the best interests of the President  to be seen as antagonising the court unnecessarily as he awaits the judges to make a decision on the future of his case.

Aggrey Mwamu, President of the East African Law Society said it is unwise for the President to take on the court in public rallies  saying the move could be interpreted against him by the judges.

He wondered why the President was keen to agitate the court when the case against him has weakened considerably and may even collapse in the near future.

“If I was the President’s lawyer, I would have advised him to keep off the ICC issue in public rallies until the case finally end. He should leave the matter to his lawyers rather than playing political football with it. That might work against him,” he said

He added:  “Public hostility against the ICC may be interpreted as impunity against the court process. The President should ask his supporters like Nairobi Senator Gideon Mbuvi Sonko to tone down their theatrics against the ICC while the case is ongoing,” he said.

Chris Gitari, a Human Rights lawyer with the International Center for Transitional Justice   said that although the judges don’t take into consideration political statements made outside the courtroom, the President is better off remaining silent about the ICC issue.

He said that the initial court requirement requesting Uhuru and Deputy President Ruto not to create a negative public atmosphere against the ICC process in Kenya remains valid and the President is better off abiding by it.

He said that by raising public sentiments against the ICC, it can easily be argued by the ICC Prosecution that he is creating an unfavourable environment for victims and witnesses in the case.

“By making public criticisms of the ICC, that has an impact on how Kenya is viewed in terms  of respecting rule of law and the institution of the ICC which we are still part of,”

He advised: ‘The President has a duty to continue cooperating with court and is better off not using his position to generate negative sentiments against the court.”

Uhuru has criticised the ICC after his  recent summons to the Hague-based court  terming it a tool of imperialism. He also questioned the wisdom of being summoned to appear suggesting it didn’t serve any purpose.

“We do not fear those people. They thought they would summon me there and then I refuse to go. We told them that we will go but if you think that the President is going there, you are mistaken since Kenya has remained with William Ruto as the leader,” he told supporters last Thursday after returning from the Hague.

-standardmedia.co.ke

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