Kenya’s president and deputy president have been charged with war crimes by International Criminal Court
U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, issued the following statement Wednesday in response to reports that Rwanda and several other members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) are seeking a vote in the UNSC on a resolution to suspend the International Criminal Court (ICC) proceedings against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. The two men have been charged with crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in masterminding the violence that swept across Kenya and left more than 1,100 dead following the disputed 2007 Kenyan presidential election.
“It is unfortunate that several members of the UN Security Council are seeking a vote on a resolution to suspend the International Criminal Court proceedings against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. The move is divisive and sends a chilling signal of impunity for perpetrators of political violence. The Kenyan government’s request for procedural flexibility, such as allowances for videoconference appearances, is understandable given their positions and need to govern. However, such requests can be addressed through existing mechanisms that guide the operation of the Court rather than suspending the process or taking action through the UN. I therefore urge the Government of Kenya and the defendants to cooperate fully with the ICC. Ensuring justice and accountability for victims must remain the paramount principle as this process moves forward, and I strongly oppose a vote on this matter at the UN.”
Several members of the UNSC, led by the Government of Rwanda, have indicated support for a one-year deferral of the ICC proceedings against Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to allow the two leaders to protect and enhance regional peace and security in light of persistent terrorism threats. Ruto’s trial started in September; the start of Kenyatta’s trial has been postponed until February.