Arusha, November 23, 2013 (FH) – As the ICC Assembly of States Parties got under way, Kenya argued in favour of immunity for sitting heads of state. Meanwhile, press reports said authorities in the Central African Republic have been in contact with ICC wanted suspect Joseph Kony over a possible surrender.

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ICC/ STATESAfrica and the Assembly of States Parties: The demands of the African Union were at the centre of concerns as the twelfth session of the International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States Parties (member states) opened this week in The Hague, Netherlands. African states are demanding that the ICC no longer launch criminal proceedings against sitting heads of state. On Thursday Kenyan Attorney General Githu Muigai told the Assembly that immunity for heads of state, enshrined in national law, is not aimed at protecting an individual but at ensuring the “continuity of the state”, especially in a country like Kenya which is facing terrorism. His speech did not provoke much heated exchange from the floor, with participants no doubt preferring to hold more frank discussion in the corridors. Both Kenya’s President and Deputy President are indicted by the ICC.  ICC/CARBangui reportedly talking to Kony: International media this week reported that authorities of the Central African Republic (CAR) have been in contact with Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the ICC, over a possible surrender. Lords Resistance Army (LRA) leader Kony has been under an ICC arrest warrant since 2005. He is suspected of 12 counts of crimes against humanity and 21 counts of war crimes. The ICC has also issued arrest warrants against three of his lieutenants, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen. The arrest warrants are in connection with crimes committed in northern Uganda. In recent years the LRA has also been spreading terror in parts of the CAR, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

ICC Ruto trial postponed: The ICC on Friday postponed the ongoing crimes against humanity trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto until January 13. Ruto is being tried jointly with journalist Joshua Sang in a trial that opened in September. The two men are charged with crimes against humanity committed in post-election violence in their country following elections in December 2007. In its decision to postpone proceedings, the Chamber said prosecution witnesses whom the Defence was ready to cross-examine were not yet available.

NEXT WEEKThe twelfth session of the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties is set to continue until Thursday in The Hague.