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Rights group criticizes African Union ICC declaration

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Sunday stated [press release] that the African Union (AU) [official website] declaration [JURIST report] on Saturday that no senior government officials should appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] was "deplorable." AI also criticized the AU's denouncement of the ICC trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website; JURIST news archive] and Deputy President William Ruto [JURIST news archive]. AI stated: "These trials should and must go ahead. Any move by the Security Council on foot of the AU's request to delay justice would be political interference in independent judicial proceedings." AI argues that the declaration sends the message that African politicians place political interests above victims' interest, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Kenyatta and Ruto are charged with crimes against humanity for their alleged involvement in inciting violence after the 2007 election [JURIST news archive] resulting in more than 1,100 deaths. Kenyatta applied for a permanent stay [JURIST report] of the ICC proceedings last week, claiming that a fair trial is impossible due to the corruption within the prosecution. In protest of these trials, Kenya's National Assembly voted in September to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report] and is expected to take action to this end soon. Kenya's parliament began to formally debate [JURIST report] withdrawal earlier in September. The possible withdrawal of Kenya from the ICC has triggered a great deal of criticism, debate and scholarship from the outset [JURIST op-eds]. In July the ICC rejected [JURIST report] a request [JURIST reports] by African foreign ministers to try Kenyatta and Ruto in Kenya after the Kenyan Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) [official website] released a report [JURIST report] connecting Kenyatta and Ruto to the post-election violence. Even with charges for crimes against humanity pending against him, Kenyatta was able to win a controversial election [JURIST report] to the presidency in March, after a case challenging his ability to run for office was dismissed over jurisdictional issues [JURIST op-ed].

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