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Kenya rejects ICC proposal to have one judge conduct Ruto, Sang trial

By Kamau Muthoni | March 25th 2016

Kenya has opposed a proposal by the International Criminal Court judges to have a single judge conduct trial.

ICC judges on February 10 this year adopted an amendment to change rule 165 of the rules of procedure and evidence to indicate that one judge could exercise powers of the trial chamber whereas three could sit on the appeal chamber. Kenya says this is illegal and unwarranted.

Kenya's interest in the matter arises from the fact that Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang are on trial at the ICC and three judges sit in the trial chamber.

On April 5, the court is expected to rule on a no-case-to-answer motion filed by the two, which essentially means the court can throw out the case or rule that it proceeds.

In a letter, the Government told ICC President judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi that the court has all the required resources to run the court as it is currently.

The Hague-based court's judges had adopted the amendment on account of minimal resources. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed in her letter said the Assembly of Parties had increased the budgetary allocation for the court.

For 2016, the assembly agreed to inject ‎€153 million (Sh17.3 billion), up from last year's €130 million (Sh14.7 billion).

Ms Amina said Kenya does not believe that there was a gap in the ICC that required filling by the remaining two judges that the court intended to 'remove' from trials.

"Kenya holds a contrary opinion to the proposed amendments, the basis of which you have indicated is to expedite the process and increase efficiency since the court is facing financial constraints."

"We recall during the thirteenth and fourteenth sessions of the assembly, the assembly approved the budget of the court. The court cannot therefore claim that states have restrained its ability to operate by denying them (judges) financial support," the letter partly read.

The amendments, Amina said, flouted Article 39 of the Rome Statute, which provides that the functions of a trial chamber ought to be carried out by three judges of that division.

She noted communication on the proposed amendments were silent on the deliberations that transpired in order for the judges to agree that one of them could sit in a trial alone. Article 152 (2) provides that amendments to RPE may be proposed by any State, the judges acting by absolute majority or by the prosecutor.

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