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Kenya: Kofi Annan Calls for Local Tribunal to Prosecute Suspects of 2007 Violence

(June 17, 2009) It was reported on June 12, 2009, that former United Nations Secretary General and Chief Mediator Kofi Annan warned Kenya that if it does not establish a local tribunal by the end of August of this year to prosecute suspects of the 2007 post-election violence that claimed around 1,500 lives, he will pass the list of key suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC). (Annan Gives Deadline for Local Tribunal, CATHOLIC INFORMATION SERVICES FOR AFRICA, June 12, 2009, available at

A bill to establish a local tribunal to prosecute such suspects was rejected by the Kenyan Parliament in February 2009, even though it had the backing of both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. While some members of Parliament who opposed the bill claim that they do not believe that the Kenyan justice system could deliver justice, some have been accused of attempting to delay the establishment of the Tribunal until after the 2012 elections. (Id.)

In his preliminary report released on February 29, 2009, the United Nations special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Philip Alston, who, at the invitation of the Kenyan government, investigated allegations of unlawful killings by the Kenyan police, violence in the Mount Elgon district in the Western Province of Kenya, and murders in the post-election violence at the beginning of 2008, had called for the establishment of an independent investigation commission and the intervention of the ICC. (See Kenya: U.N. Special Rapporteur Finds Police Responsible for Gross Human Rights Violations, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Mar. 5, 2009, available at //

Kenya is a member state of the Rome Statute, the Convention that established and governs the jurisdictional limits of the ICC. Kenya signed the Convention in August of 1999 and deposited its ratification document in March 2005. (ICC website, (last visited June 12, 2009).)

According to the Rome Statute, the ICC, which is “complementary to national criminal jurisdictions,” assumes jurisdiction when the country that has jurisdiction over the matter is “unwilling or unable to genuinely carryout the investigation or prosecution.” (Article 17, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, A/CONF.183/9 of July 17, 1998 (as amended, in force on July 1, 2002), ICC website, (last visited June 12, 2009).)