ADDIS ABABA- President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday urged the African Union to start procedures for pulling out of the International Criminal Court stressing that a ministerial committee should be given the mandate to draw plans for quitting the Hague-based court.
The president’s proposal was adopted without amendments.
Mr Kenyatta described the court as a “vehicle that has strayed off course to the detriment of our sovereignty.’’
He said the AU “must reaffirm that the global standard for the immunity for Heads of State should also apply to Africa and insist on the termination of the “collapsed” case against the deputy president of Kenya.’’
The court is currently hearing the case against Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang over the 2007 post-election violence.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has also been charged by the ICC over killings in the country’s Western Darfur region but is yet to honour the ICC’s summons.
Making his plea to the AU, President Kenyatta said Kenya and other African countries had got a raw deal at the ICC.
He said: “When Kenya and the large group of African countries joined the International Criminal Court, it was to seek legal means to complement the other important tools that we have stood up for. We sought to combat impunity while being sensitive to the reality of our young and fragile democracies.’’
One of the issues raised by Mr Kenyatta was that the ICC prosecution was seeking to proceed with cases without evaluating evidence, saying: “In any criminal justice system, these cases would never have come to trial.’’
Despite calling for the ICC pullout President Kenyatta said it was his hope that the ICC reform agenda would succeed “so that we can return to the instrument we signed up for.’’
The president said the AU would be failing in its duties if it continues to shore up a “dysfunctional instrument.’’
The next step is for a committee of AU foreign ministers to meet with the UN to discuss the proposal by Africa to pull out of the ICC.