Annan questions Kenya’s ICC commitment after al-Bashir visit

Annan questions Kenya’s ICC commitment after al-Bashir visit

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[JURIST] Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Sunday urged Kenya to reaffirm its commitment [press release] to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] after it welcomed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [case materials; JURIST news archive] to a celebration for the country’s adoption of a new constitution [JURIST report] last week. In his statement, Annan expressed his “surprise” at the presence of al-Bashir and called on Kenya to reaffirm its cooperation with the ICC. In a statement [press release] released by Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website], the country defended its decision to extend the invitation to al-Bashir and expressed its willingness to cooperate with the ICC:

Kenya wishes to reaffirm her commitment to co-operate with the ICC, contrary to the statements of the ICC and some UN Security Council Members, some of who have no obligation to the ICC. Indeed, in the recent past, Kenya has demonstrated good faith and co-operated fully with the ICC on the situation in Darfur thereby contributing to the overall objective of combating impunity and bringing justice to the people of Darfur. The extent of that support and assistance is well within the knowledge of ICC.

In addition to Annan’s criticism, the Council of the European Union [statement, PDF] and US President Barack Obama [statement] also expressed disappointment in Kenya’s decision to invite the Sudanese president, who is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and genocide.

On Friday, the ICC reported Kenya [decision, PDF; JURIST report] to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute over al-Bashir’s visit. Last month, al-Bashir also visited Chad, another member state. The ICC also reported Chad [decision, PDF] Friday to the Security Council and Assembly of States Parties. In July, the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC charged al-Bashir [JURIST report; JURIST news archive] with three counts of genocide [warrant, PDF] in relation to the Darfur conflict [BBC backgrounder]. The chamber found that there were reasonable grounds to conclude that Bashir had committed genocide against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups. The charges included “genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction.” The genocide charges were added to the seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that were filed against Bashir [JURIST report] in March 2009. The warrant has been controversial, with Egypt, Sudan, the African Union and others calling for the proceedings against Bashir to be delayed, and African Union leaders agreeing [JURIST reports] not to cooperate with the warrant.