Press Release: 31 March 2010

ICC judges grant the Prosecutor’s request to launch an investigation on crimes against humanity with regard to the situation in Kenya


Situation: Kenya

On 31 March 2010, Pre-Trial Chamber II, by majority, granted the Prosecutor’s request to commence an investigation on crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Republic of Kenya.

In the decision, the majority finds that upon examination of the available information, bearing in mind the nature of the proceedings under article 15 of the Statute, the low threshold applicable at this stage, as well as the object and purpose of this decision, the information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed on Kenyan territory. The majority moreover found that all criteria for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction were satisfied, to the standard of proof applicable at this stage.

The majority therefore granted the Prosecutor’s request, and allowed him to commence an investigation covering alleged crimes against humanity committed during the events that took place between 1 June 2005 (i.e., the date of the Statute’s entry into force for the Republic of Kenya) and 26 November 2009 (i.e., the date of the filing of the Prosecutor’s Request).

In his dissenting opinion, Judge Hans-Peter Kaul held that the crimes committed in the Republic of Kenya do not qualify as crimes against humanity under the jurisdictional ambit of the Statute. In particular, Judge Kaul disagreed with the majority on the requirements of a “State or organizational policy” as set out in Article 7(2)(a) of the Statute. Given the fact that the fundamental rationale of crimes against humanity as codified in Article 7 of the Statute was to protect the international community against the extremely grave threat emanating from such policies, Judge Kaul concluded that it had to be adopted either by a State or at the policy-making level of a State-like organization. Upon analysis of the supporting material, Judge Kaul concluded that there was no reasonable basis to believe that the crimes committed on the territory of the Republic of Kenya in relation to the post-election violence of 2007-2008 were committed in an attack against a civilian population pursuant to or in furtherance of a policy stemming from a State or an organization. Hence, Judge Hans-Peter Kaul felt unable to authorize the commencement of an investigation in the Republic of Kenya.

Background information

The Republic of Kenya ratified the Rome Statute on 15 March, 2005 becoming a State Party on 1st June 2005. According to the Rome Statute, the Court may exercise its jurisdiction in situations where the alleged perpetrator is a national of a State Party or where the crime was committed in the territory of a State Party.

On 6 November 2009, the Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision assigning the situation in the Republic of Kenya to Pre-Trial Chamber II composed of Judges Ekaterina Trendafilova, Hans-Peter Kaul and Cuno Tarfusser. If the Prosecutor intends to commence an investigation proprio motu in the Kenyan situation, he must first obtain authorisation from this Chamber. That is what the Prosecutor sought for on 26 November 2009 filing his request together with 39 appended annexes in approximately 1,500 pages.

Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situation in the Republic of Kenya

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