ICC Assembly of State Parties kicks off in New York
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – The Government of Kenya on Monday joined other members of the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the 13th annual session being held in New York.
Member states will start off by electing a President of the ASP to hold the position for the next three years.
Senegalese Justice Minister Sikiki Kaba was endorsed and once appointed will take over from Tiina Intel Mann.
The ASP which is the legislative and oversight body of the ICC is expected to debate the court’s budget for 2015.
It will also discuss the court’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence where Kenya is likely to feature due to the case against Deputy President William Ruto and Journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The ASP begins a few days after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested for the withdrawal of charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta for lack of evidence.
Bensouda had wanted Kenya reported to the ASP over failed cooperation in assisting her office to get evidence to support charges against President Kenyatta but the plea was rejected by the court.
Whereas the judges were of the view that Kenya had failed to cooperate as required by the Rome Statute, they felt that it was not reason enough why the prosecution had failed to make its case watertight.
They also felt that the prosecution raised the matter of failed cooperation at a late stage hence turning down its offer to report Kenya to the ASP.
Kenya prominently featured during last year’s ASP especially on amendments on Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
Through the side events and a panel debate in which Kenya was represented by Attorney General Githu Muigai, Kenya successfully fought a proposal seeking to accept evidence of witnesses not present in court.
The push saw the ASP amend Rule 68 which meant that hearsay evidence could not be used in court.
Kenya further managed to push for a new rule 134 (4) which allowed for excusal of sitting heads of states and other government office holders from continuous presence during trial.
Under the rule, President Kenyatta who was at the time facing charges before the court and Ruto would be recognised as duly elected by Kenyan people hence they are mandated to meet their state obligations even as their cases progressed at the ICC.
Following the adoption of Rule 134 (4) by the ASP, on January 15, Ruto was granted his request seeking excusal from continuous physical presence during his trial.
The ASP which will run from December 8-17 will also see member states elect two vice presidents and 18 members of the International Criminal Law and report on other court activities among other activities.