In an open letter to the UN Security Council [official website] on Wednesday, Kenya's UN Ambassador Macharia Kamau requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] defer the trials against Kenyan officials [case materials]. Kamau emphasized the country's current security struggles and how the continued trial could prevent Kenya from fully addressing the nation's problems. The Security Council has the power to defer trials under Article 16 of the Rome Statute [text], which established the ICC. Kenya and the African Union claim the trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto [ICC backgrounders] will prevent them from fulfilling their duties in the current escalation of conflict [BBC report]. The two are charged with crimes against humanity for their alleged involvement in inciting the violence following the 2007 election [JURIST news archive], which led to more than 1,100 deaths. Ruto's trial has already begun, and Kenyatta's trial is scheduled to begin in November.
Last week the ICC allowed [JURIST report] Kenya's president to be absent from trial. That week Kenyatta applied for a permanent stay of the proceedings [JURIST report] in his case. Earlier this month the ICC issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for a man accused of tampering with prosecution witnesses in the case against Ruto. The ICC issued the warrant against Walter Barasa, whom the ICC accuses of attempting to bribe prosecution witnesses and participating in a scheme by Kenyan government officials to interfere with the prosecution. In September Ruto pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. Also last month Kenya's National Assembly voted to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed].