By Justice Hub
Journalists and international justice commentators have been examining what the status conference that Kenyan President Uhuru attended means for the ICC over the long term.
With an ICC decision still pending, the complicated relationship between Kenya, the African Union, Kenyatta and the court could have huge implications for the future of the international justice system.
An editorial in Pan African Visions sees the attendance of President Kenyatta as a clear sign of the underlying problems between certain African nations and the ICC.
Las year members of the African Union asked for the ICC’s case against Kenyatta to be deferred, in order to protect sitting African heads of state from criminal charges. Can this already strained relationship get any worse?
“Finally, the attendance of Uhuru will accentuate the tenuous relations between the ICC and the African Union. The African Union and critics of the court will point to this case to support their allegations that its poor performance record apart, the ICC’s agenda is inconsistent with its statutory mandate of providing complementary justice to victims and confronting impunity in member states.”
Felix Olick and James Mbaka for The Star pointed out that the ICC’s position in Africa, is under serious strain.
”Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni called on all African countries yesterday to review their membership of the ICC after the court summoned Uhuru, a sitting president.”
Others are wondering whether this case and the problems in getting cooperation from Nairobi may have a serious impact on the ICC in the long run.
Adam Taylor – for the Washington Post – says the issue in fact is quite clear:
”For the ICC and the world of international law in general, the Kenyatta case represents a number of problems. The biggest problem is simple: How do you prosecute a head of state when the country they runs controls the evidence you would need to prosecute them? ”
David Bosco, author of the book Rough Justice and senior editor of Foreign Policy.
”If the case does ultimately collapse, it’s likely that Bensouda, who has proven generally cautious thus far, will hesitate before launching new investigations without the support of the most involved states. And that, in turn, means the court will become more vulnerable to the charge that it has become an instrument of state power rather than a restraint on it.”
But Luke Moffett, Law Lecturer in international criminal justice at Queen’s University Belfast, argues passionately – in The Conversation – that the case itself must be heard until conclusion – for the sake of ending impunity for the crimes of states and deliver justice to victims.
”If the Kenyatta case fails, we could soon see a wave of powerful heads of state willing to openly manipulate the international justice system to deny justice to their victims. Put bluntly, if that situation comes to pass, it could mean the end of the international criminal justice project.”
Kenya’s The Star newspaper, for its part, writes: “Whether or not the ICC Chief Prosecutor did a good job collecting evidence, let us not distort history by claiming that the ICC imposed itself on Kenya. It was a Kenyan decision to invite the ICC to come here.”