Human rights activists have welcomed a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to excuse Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta from attending all proceedings of his trial at The Hague, due to start next month.
"The Court has reduced the impact of the African Union's campaign to portray the court as political by its decision to allow President Kenyatta to attend some of the trail sessions and skip some," Henry Maina, Director, ARTICLE 19 East & Horn of Africa, told Anadolu Agency in an interview Saturday.
ARTICLE 19 is London-registered international human rights NGO dedicated for the defense and promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide.
On Friday, ICC judges excused Kenyatta from "continuous presence" at his impending trial, due to start next month.
They decided Kenyatta would only be required to attend the opening and closing sessions of his trial as well as hearings when victims present their views and concerns in person.
The decision came a few days after the AU summit in Addis Ababa accused the ICC of bias against African leaders, noting that Kenyatta was the first every setting head of state to stand trial before the ICC.
Meeting in Addis Ababa, the leaders called on the ICC to postpone the trial and on Kenyatta not to attend the proceedings.
Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang are accused of crimes against humanity arising from the 2007 post-election violence that left more than 1,000 killed and more than 500,000 displaced.
"The ruling clearly helps in dealing with the impression that the ICC has been keen on effecting regime change in Kenya," insisted Maina, a lawyer.
"But it is not a victory for those who have been pushing for withdrawal of Kenya from the ICC or the AU position that ICC has been targeting African governments."
Kenya's National Assembly and the Senate – the two chambers of parliament – recently voted in favor of withdrawing from the Rome Statue.
The motions were sponsored by lawmakers from the ruling Jubilee Coalition.
Jackie Inguti, a lawyer and human rights activist, also welcomed the ICC decision.
"The ruling is a relief that there may not be a power vacuum during the trials as the president will be available to manage the affairs of the country," she told AA in an interview.
Underlining the extent to which the ICC trials are affecting Kenya, Kenyatta had to wait for Ruto to return home from The Hague to take charge of the country before he could fly out to Ethiopia for the AU summit last week.
But Inguti cautioned the ICC accommodation could give a false sense of hope to the anti-ICC crusaders.
"This begins to create fear that forces of impunity may feel strengthened that a judicial process appears to be bending to pressure."
Community leaders say the ICC issue continues to generate tension in areas that were affected by the post-election violence, especially in Naivasha.
"Today we hear this from the court, and next time you get the feeling that the case may collapse or leaders may not attend the trail," Joseph Ole Tima, a local community activist, told AA.
"So what happens to those who suffered during the violence if the court does not take tough action?"
AALast Mod: 20 Ekim 2013, 00:01