Uhuru Kenyatta before the ICC judges: Victims need truth and justice

Uhuru Kenyatta’s presence at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 8 October 2014, as ordered by the Trial Chamber Judges, must be seen as the opportunity to place victims’ right to truth and justice at the center of the ongoing debates on the fate of this case, our organizations said today. The Kenyan authorities must ensure full cooperation with the ICC and conduct genuine investigations and prosecutions at the national level so that the victims of the 2007/2008 post-election violence get justice and redress.

On 7 and 8 October 2014, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is holding two status conferences concerning the case against Kenya’s acting President Uhuru Kenyatta. These hearings will discuss the status of cooperation between the Prosecution and the Kenyan Government and are intended to enable the ICC Trial Chamber to decide on the future of the case.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor claims that Kenyan authorities are not entirely complying with their obligation to cooperate by withholding requested material that would be necessary to establish Kenyatta’s culpability in crimes committed during the post-election violence as alleged in the case instituted against him.

"These conferences are not about the determination of the guilt or innocence of Uhuru Kenyatta, but about hearing all parties on specific issues relating to the extent of cooperation of Kenya with the ICC Office of the Prosecutor, which has a direct and considerable impact on the ICC proceedings" , stated our organizations. “While President Uhuru Kenyatta has thus far appeared to abide by his obligations to the Court, he has in parallel engaged in a series of diplomatic and judicial strategies aimed at questioning both the legitimacy and credibility of the Court’s process and which have had the effect of undermining the ultimate objective of justice for victims” , they added.

FIDH and KHRC further recall that "the intervention of the ICC is all the more crucial in light of the fact that victims of the crimes committed during the post-election violence in Kenya have not obtained adequate and holistic redress at the national level. The current developments in the proceedings before the ICC also demonstrate that no-one, not even a sitting Head of State, is above the law" .

Despite the start of a national judicial process, the 2007/2008 post elections crimes have to a large extent remained unpunished. There have been few prosecutions of mid-level perpetrators of the violence and most of them have ended in acquittals on account of poor investigations, which have failed to yield credible and sufficient evidence to sustain convictions.

Background information

Following a challenged electoral result, Kenya erupted into violence in December 2007. In the ensuing period, Kenya witnessed unprecedented violence that resulted in at least 1133 deaths, 900 cases of sexual and gender based violence, over 350,000 displaced persons, numerous victims of grievous harm and destruction of property.

In the past year, there have been almost no efforts by the government to establish a credible or effective process for investigating and prosecuting the crimes or for securing meaningful justice for victims. Due to the lack of credible local processes, the ICC has continued to receive notable support by Kenyans as the only accountability process that can effectively deliver justice for victims.

For further information, see in particular FIDH-KHRC report "Kenya: One Year in Office for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto; Human Rights Record Marred by Abuses", April 2014.

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