31/08/2010 - NPWJ News Digest on international criminal justice

NPWJ in the news

Kenyan Government Condemned Over al-Bashir Visit
By Alisha Ryu (Nairobi), Voice of America, 27 Aug 2010

International and local human rights organizations have condemned the Kenyan government for not upholding its obligation to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The Sudanese leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide, was in attendance at the historic signing of Kenya's new constitution in Nairobi.
A researcher for Human Rights Watch, Elizabeth Evenson says Kenya has blatantly ignored its obligation as a signatory to a statute that requires states to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which includes the execution of arrest warrants. "It really is an insult to the victims not only in Darfur, but to the victims of the post-election violence in Kenya because it really throws into question the commitment of the Kenyan government to accountability and to cooperating with the ICC and the investigation," Evenson said.
The executive director of the Nairobi-based International Center for Policy and Conflict, Ndung'u Wainaina, said that al-Bashir's visit demonstrates that Kenya is not ready, nor willing, to cooperate with the ICC.
A spokesperson for the international non-profit No Peace Without Justice, Alison Smith, tells VOA her organization is deeply concerned about the lack of commitment the Kenyan government is already showing to the ICC. "Not a good signal they are sending at all. I guess Kenya could say that they are simply implementing this African Union decision in respect to Sudan," Smith said. "However, Kenya is a state party and if they are not cooperating with the ICC, we do have to wonder how much they are going to cooperate in respect of investigations and eventual indictments that may come out in relation to Kenya".

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Sudan/ Bonino: Autorità keniote arrestino presidente al-Bashir
APCOM, Roma, 27 Aug 2010

"Facciamo appello agli Stati membri della Corte penale internazionale affinché protestino vivamente contro laccoglienza che il Kenya ha riservato al presidente sudanese al-Bashir e chiediamo che si avvalgano di tutti i canali possibili per fare pressione sul governo keniota affinché esegua il mandato di arresto prima che egli lasci il Paese". Lo chiede il vicepresidente del Senato, Emma Bonino, mentre il presidente sudanese si trova a Nairobi che partecipata alle celebrazioni per la ratifica della nuova costituzione del Kenya.
"In un ultimo atto di sfida nei confronti del mandato di arresto per genocidio, crimini di guerra e crimini contro l'umanità commessi contro la popolazione civile in Darfur emesso contro di lui da parte della Corte Penale Internazionale, il Presidente sudanese Omar al-Bashir è arrivato in Kenya stamattina per partecipare alla promulgazione della nuova costituzione del paese", afferma Bonino.
"Il Kenya è uno Stato membro della Cpi e, come tale, è giuridicamente obbligato dal suo trattato istitutivo ad arrestare il presidente Omar al-Bashir e consegnarlo alla Corte Penale Internazionale (Cpi), pena la perdita della sua legittimità in quanto Stato non rispettoso della legge".

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Al-Bashir visit raises doubts over Kenya's ICC commitment
By Michael Logan, Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA), 27 Aug 2010

Nairobi - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's visit to Kenya on Friday has raised questions over the East African nation's commitment to extraditing its own nationals to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Al-Bashir, wanted by the ICC on charges of war crimes and genocide in Sudan's restive Darfur province, attended a ceremony celebrating the signing of Kenya's new constitution into law. His presence alongside other African leaders overshadowed the event, prompting a chorus of protests from human rights groups.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) called on Kenya to arrest al-Bashir, saying it would prove the nation's commitment to the court. 'Kenya, which ratified the Statute of the ICC and has publicly pledged to cooperate with the Court, is obliged to arrest and transfer him to The Hague,' said Souhayr Belhassen, President of the FIDH.
'If the political will is not strong enough to prevent them extending an invitation to al-Bashir to come to Kenya, we have to question if it will be strong enough to extradite suspects from Kenya,' Alison Smith, legal counsel with campaigning group No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), told the German Press Agency dpa.
Kenya has already demonstrated a lack of desire to try those considered most responsible for the violence.

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Sudan, Al Bashir in visita in Kenya. L'Ue e la Bonino chiedono l'arresto
Martina Damiani, BARIMIA, 27 Aug 2010

Il presidente del Sudan Omar al-Bashir si trova in questi giorni in Kenya, per partecipare alle celebrazioni che accompagnano la ratifica della nuova costituzione dello stato africano. La sua presenza in quel Paese ha sollevato una spinosa questione di diritto internazionale.
Sul capo di Al-Bashir, pendono infatti due mandati d'arresto spiccati dalla Corte penale internazionale dell'Aja, per genocidio e crimini contro l'umanità, emessi in relazione al ruolo da lui svolto nel tragico conflitto del Darfur.
Poiché il Kenya è uno degli Stati membri della CPI (Corte Penale Internazionale), giuridicamente sarebbe obbligato a procedere senza indugio all'arresto del presidente sudanese. Le autorità kenyote, tuttavia, si sono rifiutate, invocando una sorta di "sacra ospitalità" concessa a tutti i rappresentanti dei Paesi vicini, compreso il Sudan.
La presunta violazione delle norme pattizie sottoscritte è stata fatta rilevare sia dal ministro degli Affari esteri dell'Ue, Cathrine Ashton, che ha chiesto alle autorità di Nairobi di «rispettare gli obblighi», sia dal vicepresidente del Senato italiano, Emma Bonino.
L'esponente radicale, senza mezzi termini, giudica la presenza di Al-Bashir in Kenya «un ultimo atto di sfida» nei confronti della Corte penale internazionale e auspica una mobilitazione di tutti gli altri Stati membri affinchè sia fatta «pressione sul governo kenyota» per l'esecuzione del mandato di arresto.
Intanto i giudici della Corte dell'Aja hanno sollecitato l'intervento del Consiglio di Sicurezza dell'Onu sull'episodio che, ancora una volta, testimonia l'esiguità della forza coercitiva reale di cui il diritto internazionale dispone.

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Al-Bashir defies ICC warrant as Kenya adopts constitution
Earth Times / DPA, 27 Aug 2010

Nairobi - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Friday defied an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for war crimes and genocide to attend the promulgation of Kenya's new constitution.Al-Bashir's presence overshadowed a ceremony in Nairobi marking the signing into law of the new constitution, which many hope will signal a bright new future for Kenya.
Human rights bodies, including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), instantly protested, saying al-Bashir's presence could tarnish Kenya's reputation.
New York-based Human Rights Watch had earlier called on Kenya to fulfill its obligations and arrest the leader.
"Kenya will forever tarnish the celebration of its long-awaited constitution if it welcomes an international fugitive to the festivities," said Elise Keppler, senior counsel in the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.
"Even worse, hosting al-Bashir would throw into question Kenya's commitment to cooperate with the ICC in its Kenyan investigation."
Alison Smith, Legal Counsel with NPWJ, said it was "ill-advised" for Kenya to associate itself with al-Bashir - currently the only sitting head of state indicted for war crimes. "While it is certainly in the interest of President al-Bashir to expand the range of countries where he is seen to travel with impunity, it is not in Kenya's interest, nor in the interest of its leaders," she said.

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Sudan, Bonino: il Kenya arresti il presidente Bashir
Roma, Il Velino, 27 Aug 2010

“In un ultimo atto di sfida nei confronti del mandato di arresto per genocidio, crimini di guerra e crimini contro l’umanità commessi contro la popolazione civile in Darfur emesso contro di lui da parte della Corte Penale Internazionale, il Presidente sudanese Omar al-Bashir è arrivato in Kenya stamattina per partecipare alla promulgazione della nuova costituzione del paese.
“La mancata esecuzione del mandato di arresto nei confronti di al-Bashir da parte dei leader politici kenioti potrebbe costituire l’ultimo passo verso la rimozione di ogni ostacolo politico alla loro stessa imputazione per i crimini contro l’umanità commessi durante le violenze post-elettorali tra la fine del 2007 e l’inizio del 2008. Come evidenziato dal lavoro di investigazione e di documentazione, svolto dall’associazione radicale Non c’è Pace Senza Giustizia insieme alla Commissione Nazionale Keniana sui Diritti Umani (KNCHR), le prove raccolte sul coinvolgimento di molti di loro sono schiaccianti.
“Arrestare il Presidente al-Bashir finché si trova in Kenya è nel loro stesso interesse, oltre ad essere un obbligo imposto dalla legge – conclude Bonino -. Facciamo appello agli Stati membri della CPI affinché protestino vivamente contro l’accoglienza che il Kenya ha riservato al Presidente al-Bashir e chiediamo che si avvalgano di tutti i canali possibili per fare pressione sul Governo keniota affinché esegua il mandato di arresto prima che egli lasci il paese”.

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Articles

Kenya, African Union defend Bashir visit
CNN, 31 Aug 2010

Kenya and the African Union are defending a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on allegations of war crimes and genocide.
Al-Bashir on Friday joined other African leaders in Kenya to mark the signing of a new constitution, which is expected to usher in major change.
The International Criminal Court has protested al-Bashir's visit to the U.N. Security Council. Kenya, a signatory to the criminal court treaty, was obligated to hand over al-Bashir, according to the international court.
Kenya and the African Union rejected that stance, saying that the U.N. Security Council has not acted on a request to defer proceedings against al-Bashir for one year.
Kenya also has "a legitimate and strategic interest in ensuring peace and stability in the sub-region and promoting peace, justice and reconciliation in the Sudan," according to a statement from Dennis Onyango, a spokesman for Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

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UN Protests Over Al-Bashir's Visit to Nation
By Bernard Namunane, Fred Mukinda and Caroline Wafula, Daily Nation, 30 Aug 2010

Nairobi — The United Nations Security Council will determine the punishment to impose on Kenya for hosting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir last Friday.
On Monday, the UN said member-states were required to comply with resolutions passed on the Darfur crisis and the subsequent requests from the International Criminal Court (ICC). This came as more countries, the national human rights agency and MPs criticised the government for inviting Mr Al-Bashir to the promulgation of the new Constitution.
Mr Sarhan Haq, the UN spokesman in New York, USA, said the Security Council expected all signatories to the Rome Statute that created the ICC to arrest and hand over the Sudanese president to The Hague.
"The basic point is all resolutions of the Security Council call for compliance to requests of the International Criminal Court on the Darfur crisis. It is the duty of all member states to respect their obligations to the ICC and we expect their compliance," he said by telephone interview with the Nation.
Mr Haq said since the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber had reported Kenya to the UN Security Council for allowing Mr Al-Bashir to step on its soil, member states would meet to take a decision.
Even though Mr Haq was non-committal on the likely action against Kenya, Mr Salim Lone, a former director of Communications at the UN, said the Security Council was only likely to urge Kenya to respect its obligations to the ICC.

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Kenyan Prime Minister Odinga Criticizes al-Bashir Visit
By Sarah McGregor, Bloomberg, 30 Aug 2010

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga criticized Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir’s attendance at an Aug. 27 ceremony for the signing of Kenya’s new constitution, the Standard reported.
Kenya, as a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, defied its obligation to arrest al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC on war-crimes charges, the Nairobi-based newspaper said today.
It wasn’t clear which Kenyan officials authorized al- Bashir’s visit to enter Kenya, the newspaper said. A legislative committee will investigate the incident, it said.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula and Tourism Minister Najib Balala defended al-Bashir’s visit, the newspaper said.

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Kenyan Lawmaker to Demand Answers about Sudan Leader’s Visit
By Peter Clottey, Voice of America, 30 Aug 2010

A Kenyan lawmaker told VOA he will demand answers from the foreign minister in parliament Tuesday about the controversial invitation of Sudan’s embattled President Hassan Omar Al-Bashir to participate in the promulgation of Kenya’s constitution.
Musa Sirlma, who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Global Action, an international group that supports the Rome Statute, said Kenya abdicated its responsibility of enforcing the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against the indicted Sudanese leader.
U.S. President Barack Obama joined former U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan in expressing shock and disappointment over Mr. Bashir’s invitation and participation during the promulgation Friday of Kenya’s constitution.
In a statement, Mr. Obama said Kenya’s government “has committed itself to full cooperation with the ICC, and we consider it important that Kenya honor its commitments to the ICC and to international justice, along with all nations that share those responsibilities. In Kenya, and beyond, justice is a critical ingredient for lasting peace.”

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UN could sanction Kenya over Bashir
BY Judie Kaberia and Catherine Karong'o, Capital FM, 30 Aug 2010

Kenya may face economic and travel sanctions after the International Criminal Court (ICC) reported the country to the United Nations Security Council for inviting and failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the court.
International Centre for Transitional Justice Head Njonjo Mue told Capital News on Monday that asking ICC member countries to sanction governments that violate international codes is the major step that the UN takes in similar cases.
“I am not saying they will impose sanctions on Kenya, but when UN resolutions are not followed, sanctions would be more extreme reactions,” he said.
Mr Mue also said it was unclear what action or when the UN would react since Kenya was not the first member country of the ICC that Mr Bashir had visited.
But Mr Mue said Mr Bashir’s presence in Kenya and lack of action by the government only indicated that the promise made may have just been in words but no action was likely to be taken when Mr Ocampo completes his investigations by end of 2010.
He said it also sent strong signals that raised a red flag to anyone seeking for accountability and fighting impunity.
“If Kenya could not cooperate in arresting and handing over an indicted suspect, who is a citizen of another country, how can it be relied upon to arrest and hand over any Kenyan who might be indicted after the investigations?” he queried.

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Obama lauds new Kenya, criticises Bashir visit
By Kevin J. Kelley, The Nation (Kenya), 28 Aug 2010

President Barack Obama has combined criticism with congratulations in his response to Friday's ceremony marking the adoption of the new Constitution.
The US leader welcomed the signing of the Constitution as “an important step forward,” adding that “the people of Kenya have set a positive example for all of Africa and the world.”
But in a statement issued from the White House on Friday evening in Washington, Mr Obama also said he was “disappointed that Kenya hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in defiance of International Criminal Courtarrest warrants for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”
Noting that Kenya has committed itself to full cooperation with the ICC, President Obama said the United States considers it important that Kenya honour those commitments.
“In Kenya and beyond, justice is a critical ingredient for lasting peace,” he declared.

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