Sunday, April 4, 2010

ICC to Investigate Kenyan Post-Election Violence

The International Criminal Court ("ICC") just began investigating Kenyan officials for post-election violence that rattled this African country in 2007 (click here to read the story: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/03/31/icc.kenya/index.html). The ICC judges determined that an investigation into these events was warranted, as they may amount to crimes against humanity, an offense defined under the ICC statute. Kenya had initially promised to investigate these matters, and to possibly establish an ad hoc or hybrid tribunal that would assume jurisdiction over the above events, similarly to what had taken place in Sierra Leone, with the establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, or in Lebanon, where the assassination of a former prime minister is currently under review by a special court. However, when Kenyan authorities stalled investigative efforts, the ICC took matters into its own hands by deciding to launch an investigation and thereby preclude the possibility that Kenyan offenders would remain unpunished regarding their roles in 2007 violence.
In fact, the 2007 electing opposing incumbent president Kibaki, and the opposition leader Odinga resulted in a Kibaki victory, but many alleged that the election was rigged. Following election results, violence erupted and several hundred Kenyans died. The ICC's involvement in these matters signals that the world community no longer tolerates human rights abuses. A country may no longer claim that violence is an internal matter. If human lives are seriously endangered, and if government officials participate in the violence, then the international community has a duty to intervene. Moreover, the world criminal court may have a duty to investigate and potentially punish any government officials taking place in state-sponsored violence. This is a positive development in international human rights and international criminal law, and a sign of the growing importance of the ICC.

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