Kenya criticises ICC as other African countries defend it
Kenya is monitoring African withdrawals from the International Criminal Court “with very keen interest,” Ambassador Tom Amolo has told the United Nations General Assembly.
“Something radical and urgent must be done if this court is to stand any chance of long-term survival as a viable and credible international institution,” the Kenyan envoy said.
Ambassador Amolo on Monday stopped short of threatening that Kenya would join three other African nations — Burundi, Gambia and South Africa — in walking out of The Hague-based court.
Tanzania, Nigeria and Senegal, however, expressed their support for the court during the General Assembly meeting in New York.
Those affirmations by influential states suggest that a large-scale African pullout from the court is not imminent.
The Kenyan diplomat, on his part, made clear that Nairobi views the court with great scepticism, due in large part to its now-suspended proceedings against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
The Kenyan representative said the integrity of the ICC’s investigations in regard to those cases had been called into question because of allegations of bribing of witnesses.
The ICC operates in accordance with “lower standards” than those of national courts, he added in a speech to the 193-nation body.
Ambassador Amolo spoke at a General Assembly review of the latest annual report of the court that was established in 2002.
Delegates from Burundi and Sudan were also sharply critical of the ICC’s performance, particularly regarding Africa.
Tanzanian Ambassador Tuvako Manongi took note of the court’s “tumultuous relationship with Africa,” which, he said, has sparked concern of an African exodus.
But “that need not be the case,” the Tanzanian envoy added.
“All too often avoidable misunderstandings, when left unattended or dismissed as inconsequential, grow into regrettable outcomes,” he said.
“Lectures and claims of high moral ground from outside the continent are unhelpful.”
Ambassador Manongi called for the court to initiate “confidence-building measures” in its dealings with the 124 nations that have ratified the Rome Treaty that established it.
Senegal delegate Abdoulaye Barro said the court had made “great strides” in the past year by taking on four cases simultaneously.
The ICC is also considering reparations to victims.
“Such outcomes inspire hope that ‘slowly but surely’ the universality of international criminal justice is coming within reach,” Ambassador Barro said.
“Senegal still hopes that a dynamic consensus could be found so that Africa could play a major role against impunity,” he added, emphasising that the needs of victims must not be disregarded in an “era of accountability.”
Nigerian envoy Tiwatope Adeleye Elias-Fatile agreed that the ICC is gaining increasing acknowledgment of its role in fighting impunity.
Nigeria remains a committed member of the ICC and reiterates its support for and cooperation with the court, Ambassador Elias-Fatile said.