International Criminal Court Current Affairs

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Russia withdraws from International Criminal Court

Russia has officially withdrawn from International Criminal Court (ICC) after President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order in this regard.

The executive order mentioned that Russia is pulling out of the 2002 Rome Statute, which establishes the ICC’s status and powers. However, Russia had never ratified the statue meaning it was never member subject to its jurisdiction.

What is the issue?

Russia was against by ICC’s declaration that Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula was an armed conflict. Russia is also under international pressure over its campaign of air strikes in Syria over the issue of bombing civilians and civilian targets. Russia has denied those allegations. Besides, ICC is also examining allegations of war crimes committed by Russian and Georgian forces during a brief 2008 war.

About International Criminal Court (ICC)

  • ICC based in The Hague, Netherlands is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal.
  • It has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
  • It was established by the Rome Statute which was adopted in July 1998 end entered into force in July 2002.
  • ICC is seen as a successor to Nuremburg trials after World War II and ad-hoc UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
  • The multilateral treaty of Rome Statute serves as the ICC’s foundational and governing document.
  • Currently, there are 124 states which are party to Rome Statute and therefore members of the ICC (India and China are not its members).

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to become first sitting President to appear at ICC

Kenyan President Kenyatta has confirmed his appearance at The Hague, Netherlands on October 8 to respond to multiple charges against him at the ICC (International Criminal Court).

Resignation

In an unprecedented move, Kenyatta has invoked a hitherto unused article of the Constitution to resign temporarily, with the Deputy President, William Ruto, taking his place as Acting President till the return of Kenyatta. This step has been taken because Mr.Kenyatta has insisted that he will appear before the ICC in his personal capacity and not as the President of a nation. It is to be noted that Kenyatta had also appeared at the ICC before he became President in 2013.

Kenyatta will risk an international arrest warrant and international condemnation against him personally and economic sanctions against Kenya, if he failed to comply with the summons issued by the ICC.

Charges against Mr.Kenyatta

Kenyatta faces five charges of crimes against humanity, inciting violence and organizing ethnic massacres that killed 1,200 people. He has denied all the charges that have been brought against him.

In September, the ICC postponed the trial after prosecutors said the Kenyan government had failed to submit important documents. The case of the prosecution is weak as of now because several prosecution witnesses have withdrawn from the case. The ICC has summoned Kenyatta for a status hearing so he may explain allegations that evidence against has been withheld by the Kenyans. His request to participate by video was rejected by the Court.

Massacres

The massacres that Mr.Kenyatta is accused of playing a role in, took place after the 2007 elections in Kenya. Kenyatta was a close ally of the winner of the election, Mwai Kibaki. Kibaiki’s opponent, Raila Odinga, claimed that the elections were rigged. The dispute then lead to violence with peoples of different ethnicities pitted against each other. Kenyatta is accused of organizing ethnic gangs to attack rival groups.

Around a thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced in the violence.

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