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Policy paper

PP23: Support for the International Criminal Court in Africa: Evidence from Kenya

Policy Paper 23
Rorisang Lekalake and Stephen Buchanan-Clarke 14 Aug 2015 Kenya
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Some key findings from this Policy Paper:

  • The latest Afrobarometer survey finds that two-thirds (66%) of Kenyans believe that their national judiciary treats people unequally. Almost nine in 10 (86%) say that ordinary citizens who break the law “never” or “rarely” go unpunished, while only 20% say that this is the case for public officials.
  • Perceptions of official impunity are widespread in Africa: On average, 56% of Africans say that officials “always” or “often” go unpunished. In Kenya, 76% report the same, which represents a significant increase from 2011 (64%). These figures suggest the need for independent judicial bodies to address impunity among powerful political figures.
  • Support for ICC prosecutions of Kenyan political figures is relatively high: 61% of Kenyans believe that the cases are an important tool for fighting impunity in the country. More than half believe that the court is an impartial institution (55%) and reject the notion of withdrawing from the Rome Statute/ICC (55%). Further, an overwhelming majority (86%) endorse Kenyatta’s decision to appear before the court in The Hague.
  • Ethnic identity and political partisanship affect public attitudes toward ICC intervention. Citizens from Kenyatta’s and Ruto’s ethnic groups (Kikuyu and Kalenjin, respectively) hold majority negative perceptions of the court, while groups associated with opposition politicians are highly supportive of its involvement.
  • A majority of African citizens say the AU does not provide significant support to their countries: On average, 38% say the AU helps “a lot” or “somewhat.” This varies widely, from 22% of Zimbabweans and Senegalese to 68% of Namibians. Kenyans’ views are close to the average, at 40%.

Graph: Prosecution of Kenyan leaders by the ICC is an important effort in fighting impunity


Rorisang Lekalake

Rorisang Lekalake is a senior analyst/methodologist at Afrobarometer

Stephen Buchanan-Clarke

Stephen Buchanan-Clarke is a master’s degree candidate in security studies at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and a researcher.