This week, Kenyan politicians and diplomats worked to convince UN and US leaders to delay the trial of the “Ocampo Six,” six Kenyans whom Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused of fomenting electoral violence in 2007-2008. But the ICC has thrown down the gauntlet, summoning the six Kenyans to appear before the Court on April 7. Now the Kenyan government has a choice: will it tell the six (one of whom, Uhuru Kenyatta, stands some chance of becoming Kenya’s next president) to go, or will it defy the Court?
A BBC report on Nairobi’s reaction makes it seem that Kenya will choose the path of defiance:
Kenya says it will challenge the International Criminal Court’s right to try six Kenyans suspected of being behind post-poll violence in 2008.
In a statement, Kenya’s government said it would also challenge the ICC’s jurisdiction.
The ICC said the Kenyan government should bring the matter before the judges and then they will decide whether to grant the challenge.
The BBC’s Will Ross in Nairobi says now that the reality of the ICC trials is hitting home there has been a late rather panicky effort to save the politicians from going to The Hague with a promise that justice will be pursued locally.
If Kenya allows the six men to refuse the Court’s summons, it will find significant support in Africa. And the example set by Sudan in defying the Court no doubt plays into the Kenyan government’s decision-making process. Given that Sudanese President Omar al Bashir remains free, Kenyan officials may decide that the consequences of resisting the Court are not serious.