Kenya moves to pull out of ICC


Kenya became the first country to decide to withdraw its membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday.

The decision came after the Kenyan parliament approved a motion in an emergency debate. Although opposition MPs boycotted the vote, a bill is likely to be introduced in the parliament in the next 30 days. 

The move comes one week before Deputy President William Ruto faces trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. 

Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta face charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly inciting post-election violence in 2007-08 which left more than 1,000 people dead and over 600,000 homeless. Both Ruto and Kenyatta have denied charges filed against them. 

Adan Duale, leader of the majority party in parliament, cited that the U.S. wasn’t a part of the Rome Statute, which overlooks prosecution of crimes against humanity and war crimes at the ICC. Duale said the U.S. did so in order to protect its citizens from harmful and politically motivated interests. “Let us protect our citizens. Let us defend the sovereignty of Kenya,” he added. 

Kenya’s withdrawal from the ICC however will not halt the cases. Earlier on Thursday, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said, “The judicial process is now in motion at the International Criminal Court. Justice must run its course.”  

A BBC report suggested that “the vote sends a powerful signal of defiance to The Hague - a sentiment that is becoming increasingly popular, here in Kenya and across much of Africa.” In May, the African Union accused the ICC of racially targetting Africans. The ICC however dismissed these accusations. 

Sources: BBC, ABC, Al Jazeera English

Photo caption: A protester carries a rock to block a road during battles between police and demonstrators disputing the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki in Nairobi January 3, 2008/REUTERS