Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Kenya: failure to arrest President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan

Delivered in Plenary - 8th September 2010

Madam President

President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been indicted on charges of genocide by the International Criminal Court for allegedly ordering terrible crimes in Darfur.

He is hardly the sort of person you would want to make a guest of honour, and Turkey had to back down from inviting him to the OIC Conference on Ankara last year because of the ICC indictment.

Sadly, that is exactly what Kenya’s President did recently at the ceremony to mark the promulgation of the new constitution of Kenya. Admittedly, many government ministers in Kenya’s fragile coalition, including Prime Minister Odinga, were very uneasy about Bashir’s presence, but the damage has been done and Kenya’s reputation as a regional leader, in that it is both a democracy and upholds international law, is now besmirched.

The ICC was established precisely so that high-ranking officials, even heads of sovereign states, could be called to answer for their alleged crimes when these became crimes against the whole of humanity, or genocide, or war crimes and therefore subject to universal jurisdiction for Rome Statute signatories.

Kenya’s refusal to honour its obligations as an ICC member is therefore deplorable. However, recent news that Kenya will cooperate fully with the ICC as it investigates the tragic post-election violence of three years ago is to be welcomed, even if it is long overdue and seems to be a consequence of the furore over the Bashir case.