Kenyan judge in race to join ICC after being shortlisted for post

Lady Justice Wanjiru Karanja. [Edward Kilimo, Standard]

Court of Appeal judge Wanjiru Karanja is in the race to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague after being nominated by the state.

Justice Karanja is among 15 candidates who have been shortlisted to battle it out for the six vacant positions of ICC judges during an election to be held in the US.

Kenya's embassy at The Hague, Netherlands, confirmed Karanja's nomination and confirmed its willingness to support her candidature.

"The government has nominated Wanjiru Karanja for the position of judge at the ICC in an election which will take place at the 22nd session of the Assembly of State Parties, at United Nations headquarters from December 4 to 14," said the embassy.

According to the Kenyan Embassy at The Hague, Justice Karanja is qualified and meets the criteria of the Rome Statute for appointment as an ICC judge, and she is willing to provide all relevant information in support of the nomination.

Should she be successful during the election, Justice Karanja will become the second judge from Kenya to serve at the international court, which is tasked with prosecuting war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Justice Joyce Aluoch was the first Kenyan judge to serve at ICC.n She was appointed in March 2009 for a nine-year term which ended in March 2018. Justice Aluoch served at the ICC trial division. She was elected vice president in 2015 and served until her retirement in 2018.

Lady Justice Karanja will battle it out with Ben-Mahfoudh Haykel from Tunisia, Erdenebalsuren Damdin from Mongolia, Adelaide Dembele from Burkina Faso, Nicolas Guillou from France, Beti Hohler from Slovenia, Ute Hohoff from Germany and Antoanella Motoc from Romania.

Other nominees are Mirjana Lazarova (Republic of North Macedonia), Clarence Nelson (Samoa), Maman Sani (Niger), Keebong Paek (Republic of Korea), Andres Parmas (Estonia), Rajaona Andriamanankadrianana (Madagascar) and Pavel Zeman (Czech Republic).

The list was categorised into regions where Africa and Eastern European States have five candidates each, Asia-Pacific States has three candidates while Eastern Europe two candidates. There are nine male candidates and six female candidates.

Karanja, 62, is a career judicial officer who has risen through the ranks to become a judge of the Court of Appeal.

Born in 1960, the judge went to Karima Girls Secondary School for her O Levels before proceeding to Ngandu Girls High School for A Levels. She then joined the University of Nairobi for her Law Degree which she attained in 1984.

"The nominee has a wealth of experience spanning 38 years in Criminal Law and Procedure. She joined the Judiciary in 1985 as a District Magistrate and rose to become a High Court judge in 2004 before being promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2011," read her statement of qualification. Karanja is nominated under Category A, which has nominees with extensive experience in criminal cases.

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