Kenyatta: Prosecutor must show trial readiness or withdraw charges | No non-cooperation finding against Kenyan government

Uhuru Kenyatta is the first sitting president to appear before the ICC. © Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta appears before the ICC. © Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

ICC Trial Chamber V(B) has rejected a prosecution request for a further adjournment of the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as the defense’s request to terminate the proceedings. Judges directed the prosecution to file a notice within one week indicating either (i) its withdrawal of the charges in this case, or (ii) that the evidentiary basis has improved to a degree which would justify proceeding to trial.

In a separate decision, the Chamber also rejected a prosecution request for a finding of non-cooperation against the Kenyan government and referral of the matter to the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the ICC Rome Statute.

ICC PRESS RELEASE:

Decision rejecting further adjournment of the case 

In its decision rejecting the Prosecution’s request for a further adjournment of the case, the Chamber noted factors including the Prosecution’s admission that the evidentiary basis remains insufficient to support a conviction and the Prosecution’s concession that it remains speculative whether the information sought in the cooperation request would, even if obtained, be sufficient to support the charges. The Chamber also noted the accused’s right to be tried without undue delay and the presumption of his innocence. The Chamber found that a further adjournment would be contrary to the interests of justice under the circumstances. The Chamber considered also the victims’ legitimate interests, which include seeing those responsible for the crimes committed being held accountable. However, the Chamber noted that these interests must be balanced with other interests of justice, and, in light of the circumstances mentioned above, found that it would not be in the interests of justice, or of the victims, for the proceedings to be further adjourned on the current basis.

Having ruled upon the adjournment request, the Chamber indicated that, unless the evidentiary base has now improved to a degree which would enable the trial to proceed, it considered the appropriate course of action to be a withdrawal of charges by the Prosecution. The Chamber additionally found that, in the event of a withdrawal of charges, its decision would not prejudice the right of the Prosecution to bring new charges against the accused at a later date, based on the same or similar factual circumstances, should it obtain sufficient evidence to support such a course of action.

Decision on Prosecution’s application for a further adjournment

Decision on the Kenyan Government’s cooperation

On 29 November 2013, the Prosecution filed an application for a finding of non-cooperation against the Kenyan Government, alleging that the Government had failed to comply with a request to produce financial and other records relating to Mr Kenyatta.

After considering the submissions of the parties and participants on this issue, the Chamber issued a decision, today, rejecting the application for referral of the matter to the Assembly of States Parties. Following a detailed assessment, the Chamber found that the approach of the Kenyan Government to the cooperation had not met the standard of good faith cooperation required from States Parties under the Rome Statute. In particular, the Chamber found that the Kenyan Government had taken no meaningful steps to compel production of the materials requested by the ICC Prosecutor. According to Trial Chamber V(B), the Kenyan Government’s non-compliance has impinged upon the Court’s ability to fulfil its functions and powers and in particular, the Chamber’s truth-seeking function.

However, in the context of the potential for a referral to contribute to a fair trial, the Chamber noted its denial of the adjournment request. The Chamber also noted, amongst other things, the Prosecution’s delay in pursuing investigations and in following up on the request for cooperation. The Chamber stressed that the issue of the Kenyan Government’s compliance with the cooperation request should have been addressed at a much earlier stage; it found that doing so would have mitigated the impact that the non-compliance has had on the proceedings in this case to a significant degree.

In conclusion, despite having expressed strong concerns regarding the approach of the Kenyan Government, the Chamber exercised its discretion in not referring the matter to the Assembly of States Parties, since the Chamber was not persuaded that a referral would facilitate a fair trial, was in the interests of justice or was otherwise appropriate in the particular circumstances.

The parties may seek the Chamber’s authorisation to appeal either of these decisions.

Decision on Prosecution’s application for a finding of non-compliance under Article 87(7) of the Statute

Background

Mr Kenyatta is charged, as an indirect co-perpetrator, with five counts of crimes against humanity consisting of murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts allegedly committed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008. Charges were confirmed on 23 January 2012, and the case was committed to trial before Trial Chamber V(B).

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One Response to Kenyatta: Prosecutor must show trial readiness or withdraw charges | No non-cooperation finding against Kenyan government

  1. Chamaka says:

    WHY VICTIMS HAVE LOST HOPE FOR JUSTICE IN THE ICC KENYAN CASES

    The 2007-08 post election violence in Kenya resulted to 1133 deaths, 650,000 displacements, wanton destruction of property and livelihoods. The Government of Kenya lost an opportunity to try suspects locally. The Hague came in and Ocampo epitomized hope for the victims with his highly publicized announcement, indicting six Kenyans, ostensibly to balance between those who wanted to get power, and those who wanted to retain power. He vowed to teach Africa how to manage general elections. His arrival in Nairobi was full of bravado as he met Government officials, NGOs and even cheetah, but not the victims.

    How he got his evidence and settled on the six remains a mystery to many. But what is known is that he heavily relied on secondary reports, failing to carry his own independent investigation. The reports, including the Waki Report, were all important but for corroborative purposes. Thus from the word go, Ocampo delivered half-baked evidence to the court. Otherwise what explains the collapse of three of the cases shortly afterwards?

    It’s now crystal clear that most of the witnesses were secured through persons and organizations with dubious intentions. Going by their testimonies so far, they had vague idea on what actually happened, relying on hearsay to get a slice of the ICC cake. Reports on witness bribing, couching and recanting sicken the victims, who have constantly complained that ICC never interviewed them despite having a liaison office in Nairobi! This greed by witnesses and omission by the prosecutor has come to haunt the cases.

    The entry of Bensouda gave the victims a ray of hope. However, to their chagrin, she came to Kenya, conducted hurried public relations forums and jetted back to The Hague; leaving them yawning to give evidence in what they thought was a fresh start. Since then, Bensouda’s statements in and out of the court appear non-factual, political and mischievous, struggling to die while fighting. She has now thrown the gauntlet to the Government to help her with evidence to win justice for victims. Yet she had all the time to access the victims and Government offices.

    Victims keep on asking themselves who chose the lawyers to represent them and why they never visit them, wondering where the lawyers get the information they present to the court from. They wonder why no one ever visits or speak for them, and are only reminded of justice whenever there is a hearing in The Hague?

    Justice delayed is justice denied. Victims have waited for justice since 2008, but all they are getting are sideshows, accusations and counter-accusations. The quest for justice, in the guise of ‘justice for the victims’ has turned into a cash cow. Victims are tired and disappointed.

    Maina Chamaka

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