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ICC warns Kenya on media leaks in Kenyatta case

October 21, 2014

The International Criminal Court on Tuesday formally warned Kenya for leaking confidential information to the media in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case related to a request to help freeze or seize his assets.

Kenyatta, 52, earlier this month became the first sitting president to appear before The Hague-based court, where he faces charges of crimes against humanity for his role in bloody post-election violence in 2007-08.

“The Chamber notes with concern the Kenyan government’s cumulative inattention to the taking of appropriate measures to ensure the confidentiality of proceedings,” the ICC’s judges said.

A pre-trial bench of ICC judges in April 2011 requested that Nairobi cooperate “for purposes of identifying, tracing and freezing or seizing the property and assets belonging or under control of Uhuru Kenyatta.”

The confidential request was issued under seal.

Nairobi however filed public documents in 2013 referring to the request, even though it was still confidential.

Kenya’s lawyers apologised afterwards, saying it would take “necessary caution” to ensure it did not happen again.

But in April, the ICC referred to a news article on the Internet which again had details about the ICC’s request.

Then in September, “Kenyan media reported again on information contained in confidential filings made by the Kenyan government, quoting directly from those filings,” the judges said.

“The Chamber notes with concern what happens to be a pattern of information contained in confidential filings being leaked to the media, in some cases even before the filings have been notified to the Chamber,” they said.

“For the foregoing reasons, the Chamber formally cautions the Kenyan government.”

The ICC summoned Kenyatta in 2011 to appear on five counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in orchestrating post-election unrest in late 2007 and early 2008 that left 1,200 people dead and displaced 600,000 others.

Kenyatta’s case however has been dragging on for more than three years, riddled with prosecution accusations of witness intimidation, while the powerful African leader’s supporters claim the ICC only targets African countries.

In Kenya, bitter memories are still fresh of the worst violence to hit the east African country since independence in 1963.

What began as political riots quickly turned into ethnic killings of Kenyatta’s Kikuyu tribe, who in return launched reprisal attacks.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.