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More than 100 Kenyan MPs to travel to The Hague for a week to attend Assembly of State Parties

By Cyrus Ombati and ROSELYNE OBALA | November 12th 2015
DP William Ruto chats with Kericho Senator Charles Keter during a public meeting, Keter confirmed that more than 100 MPs have applied for visas

NAIROBI: More than 100 Members of Parliament have applied for visas to travel to The Hague to attend the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) meeting.

The meeting will take place in Netherlands between November 18 and 26.

Sources aware of the processes said the government had written to the Dutch embassy in Nairobi attaching the names of the MPs who had shown interest in traveling there.

It is not clear who is footing the bills for traveling and staying there. Those who are set to attend the meeting will start to travel there from Monday.

"They made applications for visas in a group and they are being looked into," said an informed official who asked not to be named.

Senate deputy majority leader Charles Keter (Kericho) confirmed more than 100 MPs had applied for visas.

"I am aware about 100 MPs want to attend the session," said Keter.

Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale (Garissa Town) also confirmed he will travel to The Hague to attend the session.

"I don't know how many of my colleagues who are going there but I am going," he said.

Senate Majority Whip Beatrice Elachi affirmed that many legislators will be heading to The Hague for the meeting.

"I know of over 80 legislators but I am yet to confirm the exact figure," she said.

Those to attend the session want to go there to put a fight application of a rule on admission of prior recorded testimony in the trial of Deputy President William Ruto.

But it is not clear if the legislators will be able to lobby in the talks.

In August, ICC judges trying Mr Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang pulled a fast one on Kenya by using the amended rule to re-introduce prior-recorded testimony of witnesses who have either disappeared or recanted.

Kenya has since then been lobbying several states to back it when the session starts.

Kenya argues that the rule, which was amended in 2013, was not supposed to be applied retrospectively.

In lobbying on the issues Kenya is interested in is achieving unanimity at ASP is the matter of amended Rule 68 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

Kenya also wants her African peers to "speak on and support Kenya's request for the inclusion of an agenda item dealing with the impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the court following the amendments to the Rules of Procedures and Evidence done in 2013".

Kenya also wants Africa Union members to the ASP to lobby the ASP President "to remind the prosecutor of the court of the need for respect of the legislative authority and oversight role of the assembly as provided for in the Rome Statute."

Kenya says African states need to support and speak on the requests by South Africa on application of Articles 97 and 98 and the one by Kenya on amendment of Rule 68 to be included in the agenda of the ASP.

"Africa needs to come up with common positions on the different agenda items. To this end our experts need to meet urgently and come up with these positions, to the largest extent possible. Kindly note that this does not mean unanimity on the items, though this is the most desirable," notes written by Kenya read.

Kenya informs her peers that she has written four diplomatic notes to the President of the ASP on Kenya's complaints on application of amended Rule 68. Kenya also informs the other states that Kenyan MPs have written to the UN Security Council seeking deferral of the Kenyan cases.

Kenya has championed the formation of a new continental committee to help it force concessions on the Kenyan and Sudan cases at the ICC and UNSC

After the evidence was admitted, Kenya sent her protest note accusing the court of betraying Kenya and to a larger extent the ASP.

It said the position taken by the Court and ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is "regrettable" and "improper".

Kenya said the decision goes against the agreement made at the 12th session of the ASP where the rule was negotiated.

"Kenya was duly assured, through consensus reached by States Parties, that the proposed amendments to Rule 68 shall not be applied retroactively," UN Permanent Representative Macharia Kamau said then.

The rule allows the ICC to use prior recorded statements as evidence, where the witness is missing or has recanted his testimony.

In August, the ICC judges allowed a request by Bensouda to use the rule and consequently adopted five statements of witnesses who recanted.

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