Rights groups lash ICC over trial excusal
28 November 2013, 19:16
Nairobi - Local and international human rights group lambasted the move by the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to allow an "excusal from presence at trial" for high-ranking officials charged with international crimes.
On Thursday, ASP closed its 12th annual session and agreed to allow the leaders' participation in the trial through video technology.
"Such political decisions endanger the independence of the Court and may put the Judiciary in a difficult position, where it might not be able to apply a rule that is inconsistent with the Rome Statute," said Paulina
Vega, FIDH Vice-President, who led FIDH delegation to the ASP.
"It is regrettable to witness how States Parties have favoured political compromise over the interests and rights of victims, that they said to support a few days before, during the ASP plenary special session dedicated to victims," she added.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) also expressed concern over the changes to the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence adopted by States Parties.
"In a nutshell, the Assembly of States Parties has thrown the rule of law out of the window and replaced it with the rule of politics. It is sad to note that the interests of the victims, who do not have the same diplomatic and political gravitas as do Kenya's President and Deputy President and whose voices were only strenuously articulated by the civil society in this Assembly, have been severely compromised at the altar of political expediency," said George Morara, Senior Programme Officer at KHRC.
The Rome Statute requires the accused to be present during trial and does not recognise special treatment for any accused person.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto, are facing charges of crimes against humanity following the post-election violence that left more than 1 200 people dead in 200/08.
- CAJ News