Kenya Warns Israel About The ICC — Foe Not Friend
Kenyan Legal Advisor at the Executive Office of the Deputy President of Kenya, Dr. Korir Sing’Oei has a warning for Israel regarding the International Criminal Court. He was an invited speaker at the 2nd Annual Shurat HaDin conference held in Jerusalem on June 21 and 22. Dr. Sing’Oei spoke on both days of the meeting.
Called Towards a New Law of War, the conference explored a variety of aspects related to application of International Law in the fight against the delegimization of Israel. As part of a panel questioning if the International Criminal Court (ICC) is crossing the line into areas that should be under the mandate of sovereign states, Dr. Sing’Oei tells Israel to “proceed with caution when engaging with the ICC.”
Dr. Sing’Oei talked about Kenya’s 6 years of bitter experience after which cases against Kenyan leaders finally collapsed and the charges were formally dismissed in April this year. The evidence, obtained from doubtful sources according to Dr. Sing’Oei, was deemed insufficient to carry on.
Dr. Sing’Oei claimed that Kenya was not given a fair chance to establish an internal tribunal to deal with the election violence. And after their “painful” six years of dealings with the ICC, Kenya came to the conclusion that the ICC neither satisfies the need for justice nor the victims’ interests that it purports to focus on. Instead, the ICC is a politically motivated organization.
In a keynote speech on the second day of the conference, Dr. Sing’Oei went as far as to say that the ICC is totally irrelevant to the African continent. His issues with the court include the following:
- According to Dr. Sing’Oei, the ICC is a racist court and Africa dominates the agenda to a disproportionate extent. (sounds familiar)
- The referral system by which cases are brought to the attention of the ICC constitutes improper legal procedure: some countries use the court to get rid of political opponents, cases can be referred by countries who are not members of the ICC, and in some cases the referrals seems “whimsical” at best.
- The court should be a court of last resort and other methods at obtaining justice and attending to victims’ needs should be attempted first.
- Fair trial procedures are not protected.
- There are no check and balances to ensure proper functioning of the ICC; standards of oversight have been set out but are not operational.
Dr. Sing’Oei was clear about the fact that not only did the problems facing Kenya remain unsolved, but they actually increased as a result of ICC involvement in Kenyan affairs. He said that as the court seemingly went after “justice”, it actually undermined the needs of the victims of the violence, and, in fact, the needs of the entire nation. Kenya was in need of working through the issues that arose during the election campaigns and voting in order to strive for peace among the opposing factions of society and national stability.
By giving in to a frivolous referral to the ICC, heeding evidence that would not be considered by courts in democratic countries, and a tendency to favour culpability before due process even begins, the ICC proved its irrelevance to Africa. In an interview with Arutz 7, Dr. Sing’Oei made this clear.
The unfortunate thing is that a country’s time and money and energy has been wasted, from investing in what is really important, which is: healing, reconciliation, economic transformation and job creation and uniting our communities together.
Korir Sing’Oei declared that the international community has to stand up for the ability of nations to prosecute atrocities domestically. This means that efforts by various countries to improve the capacity of their own courts have to be supported. He gives the example of Africa that, two years ago, adopted an African Court of Justice and Human Rights that will oversee issues involving illegal takeovers of national governments, piracy, terrorism, corruption and money laundering, human trafficking and damage to the environment. This court will hopefully do what the ICC has proven unable (or unwilling or uninterested) to do: protect the victims, promote national stability and reconciliation and more.
In the interview with Arutz 7, Dr. Sing’Oei brought up the relevance of Kenya’s experience with the ICC to Israel: terrorism.
Terrorism is an offense which the International Criminal Court has done nothing to address. Instead, we have some of these terrorists who are actually protected in the name of ‘civil liberties’. And so, from where I sit, from where we sit in Kenya, we are saying that there is a need for an international court that can actually begin to try issues that are relevant to people . . . as opposed to engaging in rumours, you know, and pursuing a political agenda on behalf of other countries.
Korir Sing’Oei argues that the global scourge of terrorism cannot be conquered by weakening the states involved in fighting it, “by attacking governments, by undermining the legitimacy of democratically elected governments.”
Dr. Sing’Oei declares that:
The future of Kenya will not be determined by the International Criminal Court.
I think we Israelis feel exactly the same way about our country!
This article originally appears in Times of Israel Blogs, 22 June 2016.