Rwanda Throws Its Weight Behind Ruto, Uhuru


order geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Mr Ruto is accused of crimes against humanity (murder, site deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution) allegedly committed in Kenya in the context of the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

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The trial, which opened on Tuesday, is being held before Trial Chamber V(a) composed of Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji (presiding), Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Judge Robert Fremr.

In what appears as a rare show of solidarity among Africa countries against the ICC – a Hague-based court accused of discrimination and targeting African leaders, Rwanda’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye has applied to file an amicus curiae brief on the Prosecution’s appeal against Ruto’s request to be represented at the trial.

“Pursuant to Rule 103(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the undersigned State, not being a State Party to the Rome Statute, respectfully seeks the leave of the Appeals Chamber to file an amicus curiae brief in the appeal submitted by the Prosecution concerning the interpretation of Article 63 of the Statute, namely the Prosecution’s appeal against the “Decision on Mr Ruto’s Request for Excusal from Continuous Presence at Trial,” Busingye’s letter, dated September 5, which Chimpreports has seen, reads in part.

The letter comes at a time when ICC is facing overwhelming resistance for the instrumentalisation of international justice for political interests which continues to undermine peace processes as well as the sovereignty of African nations.

“We cannot support an ICC that condemns crimes committed by some and not others or imposes itself on democratic processes or the will of sovereign people. Such a court cannot facilitate reconciliation which is a vital precursor to peace,” Rwanda President Paul Kagame told a recent African Union Summit in Ethiopia.

A few days ago, Kenya and Rwanda urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to reconsider the charges it filed against the Kenyan President and his deputy.

To this end, the two countries have sought the support of the African Union (AU).

Foreign Ministers of Kenya and Rwanda, Amina Mohamed and Louise Mushikiwabo held discussions on Tuesday with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

According to Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, ICC has not accepted AU’s request to handover the case to the Kenyan Court.

The visit of the ministers was aimed at pushing the African Union to summon heads of state and government to have another look at the matter.

Ruto saga

On 17 April 2013, the defence for the Deputy President of Kenya, Mr. William Ruto, filed the Defence Request pursuant to Article 63(1) of the Rome Statute (“Waiver Request”), wherein the defence requested that the Deputy President be permitted to waive his right to be present at trial.

The defence proposed that the Deputy President be permitted to attend the opening and closing of trial, judgment and any and all hearings at which his attendance is expressly requested by the Trial Chamber and any other sessions that the Deputy President chooses to attend.

On 18 June 2013, the Majority of Trial Chamber V(A) granted, within the limits of certain conditions, Mr. Ruto’s request to not be continuously present in court during his trial.

The Prosecution was given permission to appeal the Decision on 18 July 2013 and filed the Appeal on 29 July 2013. The defence filed its response on 9 August 2013 wherein it argues that the Majority did not commit any error of law in the Decision.

The Prosecution and the defence raised legal as well as policy arguments regarding the proper interpretation of Article 63(1) in the appeal filings.

Rwanda’s Argument

Busingye said that as the Appeals Chamber is aware, there has been considerable debate; both at the domestic and imitational level, about whether non-State Parties such as Rwanda need to sign the Statute.

“Concerns about whether such a move would prove to be in the national interest were raised and continue to be raised,” he added.

Busingye further said that Rwanda notes the submissions made by the Prosecution in the Appeal regarding the “floodgates” problem, the fact that ”the Prosecution focuses its investigations on persons who bear the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes under the Statute” and that it is “foreseeable that future accused will hold functions that may make the majority’s test applicable to them.”

“The undersigned State also notes the submissions made by the defence in the Appeal Response Brief that “granting the request would bolster the effectiveness of the Court by demonstrating that the Court’s framework can accommodate a flexible and pragmatic approach to surrendering to its jurisdiction and to participating in proceedings by those occupying high offices who cooperate with the court.”

However, Busingye said “accordingly it would appear that the proper interpretation of Article 63 of the Statute is relevant to the current discussion on whether or not to become a State Party.”

“In these circumstances, the undersigned State wishes to provide submissions to inform the Appeals Chamber of its views regarding the proper interpretation of Article 6. The undersigned State believes its submissions will assist in the proper determination of the issue and provide a unique view point,” said Busingye.

He advised that, if leave is granted pursuant to Rule 103(1), the amicus curiae brief will address the importance of according the right a broad interpretation in order to expand the writ of the Court and to enhance its effectiveness.

“The brief will also consider the competing rights and obligations which will converge when those who occupy high offices become the subject of proceedings at the Court.”


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