The Place of Culture at the International Criminal Court: The Trial of Ruto and Sang

Author Duncan Ojwang

ISSN: 2521-2613
Affiliations: BA, J.D, LLM and SJD (University of Arizona), Senior Lecturer, Africa Nazarene University.
Source: Africa Nazarene University Law Journal, 2019, Volume 7, Issue 2, p. 49 – 69


Various authors have discussed the significance and role of culture at the International Criminal Court (ICC). This article explores the significance and role of culture in The Prosecutor v William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang. It seeks to reconcile ongoing contradictions, identify cultural contestations, differentiate between the various cultural arguments and contextualise this Kenyan trial in a way that will enrich our understanding of the ICC. In casu, Ruto was alleged to be an indirect co-perpetrator of a crime against humanity against supporters of the Party of National Unity during a Kenyan election, while Sang was a co-perpetrator. Both were members of the Orange Democratic Party. Their alleged crimes included murder, Article 7(1)(a); forcible transfer of population, Article 7(1)(d); and persecution, Article 7(1)(h). In the trial, the prosecution aimed to show how socially untenable structures such as tribalism are used to consolidate politics and might be used to perpetrate violence. This trial demonstrated the tension between culture and international criminal law as it played out in the ICC.