IMPUNITY RESTORED? Lessons learned from the failure of the Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court

The termination of the ICC cases against Kenya’s president Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Samoei Ruto in 2015 and 2016 marked the end of the quest for justice for the victims of the 2007/2008 post-election violence in Kenya. This paper traces the evolution of these cases, critically analyses what went wrong and draws lessons for the ICC, civil society and the international community for the future. In the main, the report concludes that achieving international justice is extremely challenging, if not impossible, without supportive state institutions; that regional bodies, such as the African Union, can play a negative role that hinders the quest for justice; that in the face of complicity by the political elite in criminal conduct, state co-operation with the ICC is dif cult, no matter what the law says; that the international framework for protecting victims is weak and clearly needs to change; and nally, that the international framework for holding states accountable for violations under the Rome Statute, through both the Assembly of States Parties and the United Nations Security Council, is extremely vulnerable to geopolitical pressures and calculation.

In light of pervasive violence in Africa – particularly in connection with elections, most recently seen in Gabon, Burundi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – coupled with the obstructionist role that the African Union has played in the Kenyan cases, this report draws sober conclusions about the prospects of international justice for victims of violence in the continent. The waters have recently been muddied by the notice of withdrawal from the Rome Statute of South Africa, Gambia and Burundi. All this threatens to continue to complicate Africa’s relationship with the ICC in the coming years.

Download full report here