ICC not weak but Assembly – Pace
A political campaign at the annual session of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) governing body to influence the ongoing trial of Kenya’s deputy president sets a dangerous precedent for the Court’s independence, the Coalition for the ICC said this week.
The 14th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute concluded in The Hague yesterday with governments agreeing to include in the Assembly’s final report an interpretation of an ICC rule on the use of pre-recorded witness testimony currently under appeal in the trial of Deputy Kenyan President William Ruto.
The inclusion of the requested Kenyan language in the final report holds no obligations for states or the ICC. It remains for ICC appeals judges to decide on the application of Rule 68.
“The political campaign that we have witnessed to influence the ongoing trial of Kenya’s deputy president is deeply worrying for the ICC’s ability to deliver fair and independent justice,” said William R. Pace, convenor of the Coalition for the ICC.
“Using unfounded accusations of an anti-Africa bias at the ICC and threats to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the Kenyan government has sought to gain concessions from this Assembly to put pressure on the decision-making of independent ICC judges,” Pace continued.
“The events of this week show a weakness not of the ICC but of this Assembly, and set a dangerous precedent.”
In 2015, the ICC prosecutor used an amendment to Rule 68 of the ICC’s Rule of Procedure and Evidence to present pre-recorded witness testimony in the trial. Ruto’s defense has challenged the use of the rule, arguing that governments had agreed when adopting the amendment at the ASP in 2012 that it could not be used retroactively and thus to cases that already begun.
The jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court is not recognised by the government of the United States of America.