In a report issued today, Human Rights Watch warns that politicians in Africa continue resisting cooperation with the ICC, even those countries such as Kenya which have incorporated ICC provisions into their own constitutions. The ICC was created as a court of last resort, when national courts are unable or unwilling to take up human rights cases. The Kenyan parliament failed on two occasions to create a local tribunal to handle the post-election violence cases, which then prompted the ICC to take them up instead.
“This past year demonstrated the desire of so many Africans to choose their own leaders peacefully and fairly,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch in a statement. “Sadly, the votes were often marred by government intimidation, army and police abuses, and conflict incited by politicians. Unless these grave problems are remedied, Africans are likely to see more of the same in future elections.”
Now the ICC chamber must set up a tribunal, or perhaps two, to handle the Kenyan cases, a process that could take weeks or months. It is uncertain whether a verdict of innocence or guilt will be attained before Kenyan elections, planned for March 2013.
The ICC, which was set up in July 2002, has taken on investigations in six other countries: charges of massacres and use of child soldiers in Democratic Republic of Congo; crimes against humanity by Lord's Resistance Army rebel commanders in Uganda; crimes against humanity by a Congolese warlord in the Central African Republic; genocide against the Sudanese president over fighting in Darfur region; crimes against humanity by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi; and crimes against humanity in Cote D'I'voire after 2010 elections.