[JURIST] Kenya’s National Assembly [official website] on Thursday approved a motion [materials] to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. The move is in response to the upcoming trials [ICC backgrounder] of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto, who are accused of crimes against humanity and inciting violence after contested elections in 2007. Ruto is set to go on trial next week, and Kenyatta’s trial is set to begin in November. The court, which is based in The Hague, has said that it will continue with the trials [BBC report] despite the vote. A bill is expected to be circulated for approval within the next month. If approved, Kenya would become the first country to leave the ICC.
Kenya’s parliament began to formally debate [JURIST report] withdrawal earlier this week. In July the ICC rejected [JURIST report] a request by Kenyan officials to change the forum of the trials to Kenya or Tanzania. The defense request was filed in January under articles 3(3) and 62 of the Rome Statute and Rule 100 of the ICC Rules and Procedures of Evidence [text, PDF], which provide for in situ hearings. African foreign ministers requested [JURIST report] that Kenyatta and Ruto be tried in Kenya after the Kenyan Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] connecting Kenyatta and Ruto to the post-election violence. Earlier in May Kenya’s ambassador to the UN requested [JURIST report] that the charges against Kenyatta be dismissed. 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. Kenyatta was sworn in as the country’s fourth president following a ruling [JURIST report] from Kenya’s Supreme Court that the election results were in fact valid.