THE United Nations fully supports the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court. Secretary General Banki Moon wants all UN members to ratify the Rome Statute and commit themselves to fighting impunity using both international and local state mechanisms.
In his speech at the start of the ICC Assembly of State Parties at The Hague yesterday, Banki Moon said those who commit serious serious crimes should not be allowed to go free.
Moon agreed that the ASP need to tackle the challenges faced by the ICC. Later Foreign Secretary Amina Mohammed accused the ICC of “ignoring” and “treating with contempt and suspicion” Kenya’s applications.
Speaking during the plenary session, Amina said the Rome Statute envisaged two-way dialogue but the “space for cooperation was increasingly being constrained by the court’s failure to consider the requests made by Kenya.” Mohammed said the amendments to grant immunity to sitting presidents and to change the court rules would increase the ICC’s credibility.
Amina said Kenya had demonstrated that it was committed to punishing those responsible for post election violence by establishing the National Cohesion and Integration Commission; resettlement the IDPs; providing psychosocial assistance to victims of rape and sexual aggression; distributing food to IDPs; establishing an international crime division within the judiciary; and setting up a witness protection agency.
South Africa, Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, Botswana called for a review of the Rome Statute to maintain peace and stability while ensuring justice for the victims.
They said the UN Security Council had acted hastily by asking for a vote on the Kenyan request for a deferral of the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.
They said the Assembly should review complementarity and consider having the cases heard in the continental judicial system. They said that all countries should become members of the Rome Statute to ensure universality and said it supported the special segment to discuss the indictment of sitting heads of state.
The President of the ICC Assembly of States Parties, Tiina Intelmann, told a press conference at the Hague that the rules of the court can be changed immediately but they have to consider the trial rulings that the suspects can be excused from court if it is merited.
Intelmann said she was not very worried by the threats of some African countries to withdraw from the Rome Statute. She said support for the Rome Statute was “good” and cited the recent ratification by Cote d’Ivoire.
“The majority of the countries support the court as a deterrent. Many of the cases that are before the court were referred by the countries themselves,” she said.
She confirmed that the assembly would hold a special segment this afternoon at the request of the African Union to discuss the “indictment of sitting heads of state and government and its consequence on peace, stability and reconciliation.”
An amendment to protect sitting heads of state would take some time to take effect as it would requires the consent of the UN Security Council. “Political grievances cannot be addressed by the court. The assembly is always open to listen to state parties and that is why there is a special segment,” she said. She said it was unlikely that any decision could be reached during this special segment.
“It will give us an opportunity to put in historical perspective the negotiations that led to the Rome Statute and will be looking at the past to make an assessment of the present,” she said.
The president said countries that had failed to pay their dues could approach the ICC secretariat to explain. They might then be allowed to vote in the Asembly. She said the practice has been for the Assembly to only vote on an amendment if the state parties failed to reach a consensus.