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Security Council urged to turn down Kenya deferral

October 30, 2013

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Amnesty International urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to turn down a request from the African Union to delay the International Criminal Court trials of Kenya’s two top leaders for crimes against humanity.

The human rights group said victims of Kenya’s 2007-08 postelection violence that killed more than 1,000 people have a right to obtain justice.

Amnesty’s appeal came ahead of an informal meeting Thursday between Security Council members and an AU delegation including the foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Burundi, Mauritania, Uganda, Senegal, Namibia and Kenya. The delegation has been holding separate meetings with many of the 15 Security Council members to press their case for a one-year deferral.

Kenyan opposition to the trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have gained traction since last month’s deadly terror attack by militants on an upscale Nairobi shopping mall, which underscored the country’s strategic importance in eastern Africa.

The AU’s letter on 12 October requesting a deferral said the delay would provide ”. the time required for the enhancement of the effort aimed at combating terrorism and other forms of insecurity in the country and the region.”

Netsanet Belay, Africa program director at Amnesty International, said “Kenya’s authorities have repeatedly proven they are unable or unwilling to deliver justice in these cases — so the ICC trials must be allowed to proceed without further hindrance.”

“A deferral of the ongoing International Criminal Court trials of Kenya’s leaders would send a dangerous message that the international community does not support justice for the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Belay said.

The ICC has charged Kenyatta and Ruto with crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible population transfer and persecution, for their alleged roles in the postelection violence. Kenyatta is also accused of responsibility for rape and other inhumane acts carried out by a criminal gang known as the Mungiki, which was allegedly under his control. Both deny the allegations.

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