Truths and Myths: Kenya and the International Criminal Court

In the midst of all the African Union debates around the ICC trials, Amnesty International published Perceptions and Realities: Kenya and the International Criminal Court.

Chosen extract:

Perception: Kenyans elected Kenyatta and Ruto and this means they just want to “move on.” Kenyans no longer support the ICC.

Reality: Although Kenyatta and Ruto campaigned on pledges to continue their cooperation with the ICC, their campaign rhetoric also painted the ICC as a tool of Western imperialism. Since taking office the Kenyatta government has actively courted the support of other African leaders to undermine the ICC. It has also ignored threats against human rights defenders and journalists that appear to be linked to their perceived association with the ICC. Authorities in some areas have pressed people to “move on.”

In this context and with the passage of time since crimes were committed it is not surprising that views about the ICC process have become increasingly polarized among Kenyans and that polls have shown a drop in support for the ICC. The ICC process itself has suffered setbacks. Some witnesses have become unwilling to testify, including some who have cited security concerns, which may have undermined confidence that the ICC cases can produce justice for the post-election violence.

However, serious crimes were committed in 2007-2008 and, in the vast majority of cases, those responsible have yet to be held to account. As one Kikuyu elder told Human Rights Watch in advance of the March 2013 elections:

I see people who killed my relatives, raped my cousin, destroyed my property. They have not been arrested and tried. They have not apologized for what they did. How do you expect me to just accept that and move on?

 The Kenyatta and Ruto case reaches much deeper than these two individuals, it will impact the ICC jurisdiction and let’s say it, justice and impunity in Africa.

The African Union reputation is at stake as well. It will lose all its credibility to African people and international community if they keep refuting the ICC’s decisions. I would be interested to see what the previous Chairmen, Ping and Konare have to say about this.

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