AU official accuses ICC chief prosecutor of ‘double standards’

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[JURIST] African Union Commission (AUC) [official website] Chairperson Jean Ping [official profile] said on Saturday that International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] is guilty of double standards by targeting citizens of African states for prosecution. The comments come in the wake of a vote by Africa’s foreign ministers, who on Friday supported Kenya’s bid to defer the trials of numerous suspects who allegedly planned the 2007 post-election violence [Reuters backgrounder]. Ping indicated [Reuters report] that the AUC is not against the ICC, but just Moreno-Ocampo’s involvement in it. Kenya awaits an approval from its head of state before it will invoke Article 16 [text], which would allow the country to ask the UN Security Council [official website] to have the case deferred or suspended. Kenya argues that its citizens should not be charged with crimes against humanity when people from other countries, such as Myanmar and Iraq, are not prosecuted by the ICC. Moreno-Ocampo previously rejected such criticism, noting the role of the ICC as a court of last resort for countries unable to prosecute supsects themselves. The Kenyan cases were refered to the ICC after they failed to be prosecuted locally.

Last months, the Kenyan Parliament approved a motion to withdraw the country from the ICC [JURIST report]. The vote came a week after Moreno-Ocampo presented cases against [JURIST report] six individuals believed to be responsible for the 2007 post-election violence that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths in the country. Although the vote was non-binding, it was a victory for the sponsor of the legislation, Isaac Ruto, who wants the six suspects to be tried in Kenya. The individuals being prosecuted include senior politicians and civil servants. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga [BBC profile] announced his opposition to leaving the ICC, stating that the trials will take place at The Hague.

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