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Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 14:11

ICC gets support after 3 withdrawals, but Kenya is critical

By Associated Press

ICC gets support after 3 withdrawals, but Kenya is critical
In this undated file photo, a woman walks in front of the International Criminal Court in The Hague in the Netherlands. (Photo / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — Many countries pledged support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday following the announced withdrawal by three African nations, but Kenya , which the tribunal is investigating, was sharply critical and questioned its long-term survival.

Many in the General Assembly called for talks between the ICC and the African Union in hopes of addressing the continent's concerns and reversing the decisions to leave by Burundi, South Africa and Gambia .

Many in the General Assembly called for talks between the ICC and the African Union hoping to address the continent's concerns

Kenyan Ambassador Tom Amolo didn't say whether his country would also leave, but he told the 193-member world body that his country was monitoring the withdrawals "with very keen interest."

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, as well as Senegal, the first country to ratify the Rome Statute that established the court, and Tanzania reiterated their support for the ICC, stressing the court's importance in combatting impunity for the world's most atrocious crimes, including genocide.

The ICC has been accused of bias by some African leaders because since the Rome treaty came into force in 2002, only four people have been convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Three were from Congo and one from Mali. So far, it has indicted only suspects from Africa, and of the 10 full-scale investigations currently underway, nine are in Africa and only one elsewhere — in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

But the ICC is expanding its global reach. It is currently conducting 10 so-called preliminary examinations — probes to establish whether to open a full investigation — in countries including Afghanistan, Ukraine and Colombia, as well as the Palestinian territories and alleged crimes by British forces in Iraq.

ICC President Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, presenting the court's annual report to the assembly, said two trials are under way and another is set to start soon. And following convictions, she said, proceedings for reparations for victims are under way in four cases.

But Kenya's Amolo called the ICC's "dismal output of tangible results ... disheartening and simply confounding."

ICC gets support after 3 withdrawals, but Kenya is critical
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (C) is greeted by delegates upon his arrival in Khartoum on Oct 29, 2016. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta began a two-day visit to Sudan, just days after Khartoum issued a call to all African countries to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. (Ashraf Shazly / AFP)

He accused the court of having lower standards than national courts and warned that "something radical and urgent must be done if this court is to stand any chance of long-term survival as a viable and credible international institution."

The ICC indicted Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity for 2007 post-election violence in which more than 1,000 died. The case collapsed because of what the ICC prosecutor called threats to witnesses, bribery and lack of cooperation by Kenya's government, but it remains open.

Amolo said African countries "have tried to engage constructively" with the ICC with little success.

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