The cases against four senior Kenyan figures before the International Criminal Court cleared a major hurdle on May 24 when appeals judges rejected challenges which the defendants had filed over whether the court has jurisdiction to prosecute. The cases now look set to go to trial in The Hague within a year, and the decision has been welcomed as a big step forward by rights groups and victims of the December 2007-08 violence that followed the disputed presidential election. The parties will convene in The Hague on June 11-12 to discuss the next steps in the process, including a possible start date.
In Kenya, supporters of the ICC process hailed last week’s decision as an endorsement of the prosecutor’s powers to investigate crimes on his own initiative. The Kenyan investigation will be the first case that ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has initiated and successfully brought before the court, under the legal doctrine known as “proprio motu”. “By exercising his proprio motu powers and succeeding on it to this level, the prosecutor and the court have shown the zeal to punish international crimes,” said James Gondi, the head of the International Centre for Transitional Justice in Nairobi.