Kenya votes to quit ICC, days before deputy president’s trial


Kenya’s parliament voted on Thursday to quit the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, but the Hague-based tribunal said it would press ahead anyway with the trials of the country’s president and his deputy.

Report by Reuters

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are accused of orchestrating violence after elections in 2007. About 1,200 people were killed in ethnic blood-letting that plunged east Africa’s biggest economy into crisis.

Both men had promised to cooperate with the global court before the vote, a position echoed by Ruto’s lawyer just before the decision on Thursday. But neither were available for comment on whether that was still their position after the decision.

The parliamentary motion underlined mounting hostility against the court among politicians in Kenya and across Africa who have accused it of bias as all its suspects to date have been from the continent.

Ruto’s trial starts on Tuesday and Kenyatta’s in November, despite Kenyan efforts to have the cases dropped or moved nearer home.

Parliament, dominated by the alliance that brought Kenyatta to power in a peaceful election in March, voted to tell the government to withdraw from the ICC.

“I am setting the stage to redeem the image of the Republic of Kenya,” Aden Duale, the majority leader from Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition, said on behalf of the motion.

Opposing him, minority leader Francis Nyenze warned: “We’ll be seen as a pariah state, we’ll be seen as people who are reactionary and who want to have their way.”

Under parliamentary procedure, the government will now introduce a bill to cut ties with the court formally. The ICC said any departure would take at least a year and it would have no effect on running cases.


Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said earlier on Thursday both cases would go ahead. She said there had been repeated threats and bribes aimed at persuading relatives of witnesses in the cases to disclose their whereabouts.

“Witnesses have gone to great lengths to risk their lives and the lives of their relatives to support our investigations and prosecutions,” the prosecutor said on the court’s website.

ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said Kenya, by withdrawing from the court, would prevent the court giving “legal protection to the Kenyan population for potential crimes in the future”.

Human Rights Watch said Kenya’s “political establishment” was denying Kenyans the right to the justice their courts have failed to deliver. Kenyan legal expert George Kegoro said the main danger would be if the vote was used to “shield” suspects.

Defying the court can be costly. Sudan’s isolation by the West deepened after an arrest warrant was issued for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir over charges of genocide in Darfur.

But Bashir’s warrant has not stopped his travels, including to African signatory states and China which has not signed. Others who have not signed include the United States and Israel.

Kenya ratified the Rome Statutes in 2005, but Western diplomats have said the cooperation of the Kenyan authorities with the court has often been limited – “wafer thin” according to one senior diplomat in Nairobi.

That highlights of the biggest challenges for the ICC that it must rely on the good will of countries where it works to gather evidence. It has secured only one conviction to date, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga.

Analysts say the ICC must do more to address African concerns that it has become a tool for world powers.

“In the early years, Africa welcomed the attention (from the court), but that started to tip about five years ago when the Africans realized the court had become a very loyal partner of the U.N. Security Council,” said Bill Schabas, professor of international law at Britain’s Middlesex University.

At the time of the 2007 vote, Kenyatta from Kenya’s biggest Kikuyu ethnic group was a rival to Ruto, a Kalenjin. After that vote was disputed, machete-wielding members from their groups were blamed for much of the post-election bloodshed.


  1. BIG UP Kenya this so-called international court of Justice nothing bt a mockery of justice and the sad thing is our fellow african brothers and sisters are used as fronts to push the colonialists agenda most judges and prosecutors in that circus court are from africa..what a shame

  2. @ Eddy, the real power rests behind the hidden hand that holds the silly African judge’s hand which holds the hammer. Well done Kenya, the revolution can not be stopped, the winds of change are here! SADC, AU, ZIMBABWE, KENYA are heroes to African people but a bunch of cannibal evil doers and dictators in the eyes of the west. Choose sides now!

  3. The self-determination of Africa is commendable but I ask this- Are we as Africans prepared and most importantly willing to hold our fellow African leadership/counterparts accountable for grave injustices when they do occur? If for example – God forbid- we had a repeat scenario of the Rwandan Genocide in another part of our continent- would we be willing to call it for what it is or will we bark up the pan-Africanist brotherhood tree and choose not to hold our fellow brothers accountable?

    Important things to ponder on lest we plunge ourselves into further oblivion.

    We can only begin to solve the problems on our continent for ourselves if we as Africans hold ourselves to a much higher standard of accountability.

    • You have a point. In fact, more than a point. There was a genocide in Rwandan proportions in 2008 June in Zimbabwe. Only that people were maimed physically and psychologically, and displaced, but left with a body for all to see and show the scale of the event to be low. June 2008 was terrible. The fear in Zimbabweans is entrenched because of that, but of our African brothers only Botswana has spoken out!!

  4. The iraqis were murdered by the Americans for no reason at all but no one talks about arresting Bush. Its sad when international tools are used to persecute those who defy America. The kenyan puppert Odinga murdered pple but nobody says a thing.

  5. @ Afrika, well said. A culture of accountability does exist in Africa but we must do more to perfect our systems and governance styles as everyone else should. I remember how our courts ruled fairly after ZANU PF cooked up a silly allegation of treason on Morgan Tsvangirai. It is sad to see the same Morgan Tsvangirai blasting the very same judges today because to him all rulings must be in his favour: that is a dictator in the making.

  6. Why are they afraid a person is innocent until proven guilty.look @ what happened in Rwanda and Sierra Leon,those culprits cannot walk scot free

  7. No doubt the war mongering John Kerry will soon give the Kenyan government a tongue lashing and possibly threaten to impose ‘targeted sanctions’ on Uhuru and his inner circle because of this bold move to give ICC the finger yet America is not a signatory to the ICC.

  8. Africa lacks integrity and we will never trust this. We did set up a SADC tribunalbut when it ruled against Zanupf chicannery on land Zimbabwe pulled out, so Kwenya can pull oit and abuse human rights at will and Africa will say pan-africanism, in as far as I am concerned pan-africanism compares very well to cannibalism.

    • @rhodes, Guilty by whose standards, colonialism itself was a diabolic injustice as was slavery…their moral standards are preposterous if not outright evil to victims over the centuries, the Sioux, aborigines, africans, …and teaching pretentious christian virtues …fetid hypocrisy.

  9. The Pan -African dream has been derided in academic and international legal institutions as amounting to nothing more than just a dream, Yes we CAN hold ourselves to very high standards, we dont need some umbrella judiciary prefect…a subtle perpetuation of colonial hegemony.Remember colonialism rode roughshod over the then national/ethnic boundaries, obliterated our cultures and deliberately distinguished peoples as that ethnic/tribal grouping or the other…UHURU wa KENYATA, UHURU WA AFRICA YOTE, we salute.

  10. before elections he said ok after he is now afraid of what ? even in zimbabwe we threated to pull out of sadc after elections we proposed love to lindiwe zuiu

  11. @ mutigori, the ICC is not interested in finding the truth, if they were then Raila Odinga would also be on their list. Why walk into a trap unless you are a fool? The next step is USA and EU will slap sanctions on Kenya. They are pissed off because their puppet lost an election 3 times in a row (I mean Odinga, not Tsvangirai) –

  12. Zimbabwe is first because tisu takatanga nekubuda mucommonwealth, tikatora minda. Kenya derived the courage from us but they need to brace for sanctions. The rest of Africa (I mean AU) must vote out of ICC in protest against the arrest of leaders from the continent only! The ICC was set up to intimidate Africans so the west can continue to manipulate us and exploit our resources.
    Mudhara BOB aratidza vanhu gwara!!!

  13. We never rectified the statutes. Way to go Kenya, Africa has hope. Wake up South Africa, wake up Nigeria you will not achieve your much coveted Security Council membership by hanging onto the coattails of the west. Stand up for something African for a change. Now the AU should stop all co- operation with this lynching club.

  14. Farai most of African countries are parties to the ICC, some have signed but not ratified the statutes including Zimbabwe. Kenya ratified and is therefore a party that’s why they had to take a vote out. In fact there are just less than 10 countries in Africa that have neither signed nor acceded to the statutes including tiny Swaziland, Ethiopia, Somalia, S. Sudan, Lybia, Mauritania, Togo, Burundi and Equatorial Guinea. China is not signatory to the ICC. The rest of Africa has either signed or acceded and need to take formal steps out of the ICC. Did you know that USA has also gone the Kenya way and it is not bound by ICC statutes any longer. That is why they did not send Saddam to the Hague but tried him themselves using their Iraq judges!
    Africa should match out as soon as yesterday!

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