Kenya allows ICC to open its office

September 04, 2010, Saturday/ 16:27:00/ AP
Kenya on Friday allowed the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an office in the country, a development that comes after Kenya’s commitment to the court came into question when the nation hosted Sudan’s indicted leader last week.ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is investigating top Kenyan leaders and businesspeople for their roles in the country’s December 2007 to February 2008 post-election violence that killed more than 1,000 people. On Friday, Kenya granted the ICC immunity from legal challenges, tax exemptions and other privileges in a letter signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula. The move comes only a week after Kenya hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during a ceremony for Kenya’s new constitution. Al-Bashir faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity at the ICC stemming from the violence in Sudan’s Darfur region. Despite being a party to the statute that created the ICC, Kenya did not arrest al-Bashir, arguing that such a move would destabilize Sudan. That decision provoked an international outcry, including words of rebuke from President Barack Obama, and it raised doubts about the country’s willingness to hand over Kenyan suspects expected to soon be charged by the ICC. The ICC does not have its own police to enforce arrest warrants and it relies on member states such as Kenya to execute them. Kenyan Cabinet leaders, including Wetangula, met with ICC Registrar Silvana Arbia on Friday.

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