The Hague - Kenya argued on Thursday that putting its top
two leaders on trial before the International Criminal Court could compromise
security in the often volatile east African region.
The indictments for crimes against humanity against Kenyan
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto "create particular
problems in the context of regional peace and security", Kenya's
attorney-general Githu Muigai said.
Muigai was speaking on the second day of an annual meeting
of the Hague-based ICC's member states, during a session to discuss whether
heads of states should be given immunity from prosecution.
"Kenya is the lynchpin in the peace and security of
more than 250 million people from Djibouti to the eastern Congo. Kenya is one
of the most important pillars in eastern Africa" in the fight against
terror, drug trafficking and piracy, Muigai said.
He stressed: "It is not in our humble view a country...
the international community should play Russian roulette with."
The United States, Britain and Israel have long had close
military and intelligence ties with Nairobi.
Kenya plays a major part in regional military efforts to
stamp out al-Qaeda-linked militants who have turned neighbouring Somalia into a
major global jihadist hub.
The Shabaab group carried out an attack on a Nairobi mall
that killed at least 67 people in September in retaliation for Kenya's
involvement in Somalia.
The annual meeting in The Hague is turning into a forum for
some African countries to vent their frustration with the world's only
permanent court for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Delegates from the court's 122 member states on Thursday
afternoon listened to a special debate on whether the ICC's founding treaty,
the Rome Statute, should be changed to say that heads of state cannot be
prosecuted while serving in office.
The ICC's Assembly of States Parties (ASP) debate comes at
the behest of the African Union which has accused the court of racism because
all its current cases involve Africans.
Kenyatta and Ruto are accused of fomenting political unrest
in which more than 1 100 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced
following a disputed 2007 election.
"Africa is worried about the proceedings initiated
against sitting heads of states," the AU's legal representative Djeneba
Diarra told delegates.
"We believe indictments could pose a threat to
stability and democracy in countries such as in Kenya," Diarra warned.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is also wanted by the ICC
for genocide in Darfur.