Kenya: ICC trial is a landmark step to end impunity for politically-motivated mass crimes

11 Sep, 2013 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome-New York, 11 September 2013

Yesterday, proceedings against Kenyan Vice-President William Ruto and radio broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang have opened at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Both men are facing three counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible population transfer and persecution, for allegedly organising or inciting the 2007-2008 post-election violence that killed at least 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000. The trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces five charges of crimes against humanity including murder, rape, persecution, deportation and other inhumane acts, is due to start on 12 November 2013.
In an emergency session convened last week, Kenya’s National Assembly passed a motion to introduce a Bill within the next 30 days aimed at ending Kenya’s membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) welcome the opening of the ICC trial against Kenyan Vice-President William Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang. This trial can be a landmark step to determine responsibility for the 2007-2008 atrocities which left over one thousand people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced following the elections at the end of 2007. Impunity for political violence has been the norm in Kenya for far too long and the commencement of this trial is an opportunity to signify that that no one is exempt from justice and that the days of rewarding violence with political power are over.

“Although the Kenyan authorities have stated that they will cooperate with the ICC, they have also made deplorable attempts, including recently before Kenya’s Parliament, to undermine and affect the ICC’s work to pursue justice for these crimes. We urge both the Kenyan authorities and the defendants in the Kenya cases to extend all possible cooperation to the ICC and to take all possible steps to guarantee fair, smooth and effective proceedings, including to ensure proper protection for victims, witnesses and anyone else connected in any way with ICC proceedings as well as their full participation in the justice process.

“At the same time, NPWJ and the NRPTT note that the pursuit of justice cannot be undertaken solely by the ICC, which focuses on perpetrators at the highest level. Kenya too has a responsibility to its citizens to pursue justice and prevent impunity at all levels of perpetration. So far, no decent domestic criminal accountability process has taken place to address the crimes committed in 2007-2008. We call upon Kenya to demonstrate its commitment to break the cycle of impunity and prevent future election-related violence, by ensuring justice, truth and reparations for the victims of many other crimes that the ICC is unable to cover.”