By Niklas Jakobsson
How does the Framing Theory relate to international justice and the International Criminal Court? Well, if you’ve been following the Assembly of States Parties over the past few days, you might have seen the link in an article or two about Kenya and Rule 68.
The story of why Kenya has issues with Rule 68 and what they’re doing to have it revoked can be found on our sister site The Hague Trials Kenya. In short, Kenya has an issue with the Office of the Prosecutor wanting to admit recanted evidence in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.
Framing is the way in which information is packaged. This is done in order for the reader to relate the information to something which they find familiar. No need to worry – I’ll not work my way through the Framing Theory and how it differs from agenda setting and priming. Instead, I’m going to look at how the Kenyan media covered the Rule 68 debate at the end of last week.
Over the last week, several states have voiced their support for the Court’s independence. Rule 68 is currently being dealt with by the Appeals Chamber, and the general sentiment is that Kenya and the ASP should leave this issue up to the judges. But the Kenyan media decided to boil it down to what’s known as horse race journalism – pitting two parties against each other with only one possible winner.
The selection of NGOs versus Kenya definitely raises an eyebrow or two.
There was a large consensus among states parties that legal matters should be left to the Court. Framing it as NGOs versus Kenya therefore doesn’t really make sense, one could argue. But this was not the first time last week that the Kenyan media tried to frame things in a different light.
The text in the tweet can be seen as another (and possible more accurate) way of framing Kenya’s agenda at the ASP. But the Kenyan media frames Kenya as the underdog in a battle against a superior entity. Interestingly, this way of framing is mainly used in two settings: sports and war reporting.
The frames used by several Kenyan outlets seem to quite closely reflect the stance of the government. However, this doesn’t mean that there should be substantial bashing of the Kenyan media. The consistency of the Kenyan government’s message over the last few years means that it’s almost guaranteed to spill over into the media. This has to do with the audience already being used to the issues being framed in this way. So the package delivered by the Kenyan media over the last week might seem a bit out there (and to some extent, it is). But at least one can argue that there’s some method – or in this case, theory – behind their madness.
Lead image: Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed (Photo: Salvatore di Nolfi/EPA)
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