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ICC Has Fallen From High Ideals of Global Justice, Accountability

Author: Jendayi E. Frazer, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Africa Studies
March 16, 2013
Daily Nation


"Innocent until proven guilty" is a defining principle of all respected legal systems, including that of the United States. Presumption of innocence allows an individual to run, win and hold public office until they are found to be anything other than innocent.

The High Court of Kenya upheld exactly this principle with its ruling on February 15 clearing the way for Uhuru Kenyatta to run for President in Kenya's March 4 election.

It ruled that Kenyatta's presidential bid could go forward because the High Court has no jurisdiction to determine qualifications of a person who has been duly nominated to run for president; the Rome Statue has no provision for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bar candidates; and importantly under Article 50 of the Kenyan Constitution, there is a presumption of innocence until the contrary is proved which falls under the category of fundamental rights and freedoms.

Yet on the eve of the election, several Western countries were seen as using the ICC indictment to pre-emptively "try and convict" Uhuru Kenyatta in the court of publicopinion, presumably to tank his electoral prospects.

The US assistant secretary's statement that "choices have consequences" went well beyond President Obama's welcomed video message to Kenyans released only days before calling for a free, fair and peaceful election. In effect, the warning contradicted President Obama's appropriate statement that "the choice of who will lead Kenya is upto the Kenyan people. The United States does not endorse any candidate for office."

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