Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ruto's ICC motion bites the dust

The motion seeking Kenya's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court has been thrown out.

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim told Parliament yesterday that the motion by Cheplaungu MP Isaac Ruto (left) was inadmissible in its current form. Mr Maalim, while issuing a communication from the Chair, said he could not allow debate on the motion because it was contrary to the law.

"As the constitution enjoins every person to obey and respect the rule of law, a motion calling on the government to disobey, contravene or defy the law is unlawful and unconstitutional,’’ Mr Maalim said. But he said the MP could as well introduce a bill to repeal the International Crimes Act instead of doing so through a motion. “It is the wording thereafter in the motion in purporting to interpret the effect of such repeal and in calling for cessation of links, co-operation and assistance to the International Criminal Court that forthwith render the motion inadmissible,’’ he ruled.

The motion would have been admissible, noted Mr Maalim, had it been amended and limited to calling on Parliament to resolve that “the Government takes immediate action to have the international  Crimes Act repealed". He argued that contrary to the requirements of the motion, there was no way a repeal of the Act would “immediately’’ release Kenya from its obligations under the Rome Statute.  “It cannot, under the terms of the Statute, suspend any links cooperation and assistance to the ICC forthwith,’’ ruled the Speaker.
“The proposed motion is therefore contrary to the law also on this score.’’ Mr Maalim made the ruling after MPs among them Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, Gichugu MP Martha Karua, Garsen’s Danson Mungatana, Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central)  and Dr Boni  Khalwale of Ikolomani  questioned its constitutional validity and sought Mr Maalim’s direction. He shelved it and pledged to give directions Tuesday.

Meanwhile, members of the House Business Committee that draws the agenda of Parliament were divided down the middle on whether to allow the controversial motion for debate, when it was brought before them for placement last Tuesday. Apparently Mr Kilonzo successfully convinced the meeting which was chaired by deputy leader of Government Business, Dr Sally Kosgei, that the motion as drafted was unlawful. However, the following day a special HBC meeting was called and the members present voted to have it debated last Thursday. When it came to the floor Mr Kilonzo called for careful handling of  the motion. “In order for this motion to even see the light of the day, we must find a way of excepting the Rome Statute from the article 2(6) of the Constitution. In seeking the Speaker’s guidance, Mr Mungatana  argued the motion breached provisions of the Constitution and in particular Article 2 that deals with its supremacy.
He described it as a violation of Article 2 (5) that makes the general rules of international law part of  Kenya’s Constitution. Similar observations were also made by Mr Imanyara, Ms Karua and Mr Kilonzo.

UPDATE: MPS approve motion to repeal International Crimes Act and ask the government to withdraw Kenya from the Rome Statute (Wednesday 22nd December, 9:12pm).

No comments: