East African Legislative Assembly Wants ICC Cases Tried in East African Court
The fight to claw away the cases of four Kenyans charged with crimes against humanity from the grip of The Hague based International Criminal Court took a fresh spin when the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) passed a Motion urging the court to transfer the trials to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).
The Eala resolution came on the day former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty of crimes of aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone and became the first former head of an African state to be convicted of war crimes by an international court.
The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, sitting in The Hague, tried the Taylor case.
But the 45-member assembly concluding its sittings in Kenya described ICC as a neo-colonial court that should not be entrusted to serve justice to the four Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity during post-election violence.
The Motion that was originated by Dan Wandera Ogalo from Uganda, urges the East Africa Community Council of Ministers to implore ICC to transfer the cases to EACJ and to reinforce the EAC treaty provisions.
"The indictment of the four by the ICC may alone not, and will not, resolve the underlying issues that led to the said violence that grasped the entire nation of Kenya," said Mr Ogalo.
The Assembly’s resolution comes two days after President Kibaki, during the second State of the Nation address to Parliament, intimated that the Government is exploring a way to have the cases tried locally.
Kibaki’s allies Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura are facing trials at ICC. Eldoret North MP, William Ruto and Radio FM presenter Joshua arap Sang are the other two suspects.
Kenya’s representative to the Assembly, Gervaise Akhaabi, while seconding the Motion, said having the cases tried in the region would safeguard the independence of EAC. "If we don’t have the cases referred to EACJ we are selling our independence; we are selling our dignity," he said.
Burundi’s representative Leonce Ndarubagiye urged leaders to be cautious while signing international treaties and conventions.
Even though the members expressed support for the Motion, Kenya’s Augustine Lotodo raised questions about the speed of EAC to deal with the matter.
The Council of Ministers was required to immediately embark on requesting ICC to transfer the cases and institute them in the EACJ on the basis that the acts complained of are contraventions of the Treaty.
The Assembly also resolved that the chairperson of the Council of Ministers submits its resolutions to the 10th Extra-Ordinary Summit of EAC Heads of State sitting tomorrow on proposed amendments to Article 27 of the Treaty to bring similar cases of international crimes to EACJ.
And East Africa Community Assistant minister Peter Munya castigated the Government for signing the Rome Statute saying ICC is a colonial court. "There is a neo-colonial element in the trials. ICC is a colonial instrument," he said.
Source: The Standard