No Nairobi for You, Omar

by Kevin Jon Heller

The High Court of Kenya has held that the government has an obligation to arrest Bashir if he sets foot on Kenyan territory:

The Kenyan High Court ruling was the result of a case that the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) brought against Kenya’s attorney general and internal security minster in 2010.

“The courts have said that Kenya has an obligation to arrest Bashir if he is to come to country, if there was doubt as to the legal position, that has been clarified,” says George Kegoro, the executive director of the ICJ.

Al-Bashir visited Kenya last year to attend the ceremony for a new constitution. At the time Kenyan officials said that Kenya was beholden to African Union decisions on arresting the Sudanese president.

According to the ICJ, the court said local laws and international agreements such as the Rome Statue that Kenya has signed supersede African Union policies.

“We are satisfied with the ruling and we hope that it clarifies the legal and political situation in Kenyans relationship with Sudan,” said Kegoro.

This is a welcome ruling, especially with regard to the Court’s repudiation of the AU.  Strike one more country from Bashir’s Christmas-card list.

http://opiniojuris.org/2011/11/29/no-nairobi-for-you-omar/

4 Responses

  1. It’s not a good time to be a bad guy.

  2. Very interesting indeed. There appears to be a pretty big gap between the political class and judiciary in Kenya. Today Kenya’s foreign minister declared the High Court’s decision as a “judgement in error” which “clearly shows the insensitivity of the court to international relations.” Looks like the Government will appeal the decision but that until then they’ll respect the decision.

  3. Also, the title of this post would be a fantastic title for a documentary on deterrence and marginalization!

  4. 1. Mark’s assessment (“appears to be”) was incorrect for Kenya in its generality. The oppposite is still the case. Fact.

    2. Judge Ombija is a very special case anyhow, and is classified in the loony bin for good reasons (read the many Kenyan news reports about him and his egomaniacal eccentrics); but this his decision was made in a lucid moment.

    3. What is interesting, is that the new chief justice (Dr. Willy Mutunga, formerly well-known to some here as a decades-long stalwart human rights activist, head of KHRC etc.) has now strongly spoken out against the contempt of court uttered by Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula. The doctor has in no uncertain words affirmed the (non-existent!!) independence of the judiciary, and that he will defend his judges against any political intrusion and outside influence.
    Some people in Kenya now hope that there is still a Jedi knight hidden inside the new black armour of the chief justice “Darth” Mutunga.

    4. In the Kenyan kontext ;-), this was a very clear and very loud signal to the judges who might eventually hear an appeal of the government of Kenya against this decision by a high court judge.

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