The East African Law Society (EALS) has cautioned the regional leaders against their bid to have the cases facing four Kenyans at the International Criminal Court transferred to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) recently requested the transfer of proceedings on the alleged roles in the 2007/2008 Kenya post-election violence from The Hague-based ICC to the regional court.
In a statement issued at its head offices in Arusha Wednesday, the regional premier Bar association said EACJ neither had the capacity, expertise nor jurisdiction to handle the cases involving the powerful Kenyans.
"Neither does the Rome Statute provide an avenue for states or intergovernmental organisations to request for relocation of cases after the confirmation of charges," EALS said in a statement issued by its communication officer, Mr Daniel Birungi.
The statement said if the East African Community (EAC) partner states insisted on relocating the cases to the regional court, "they must ensure a total review and restructuring of the court to grant it the envisaged criminal jurisdiction".
EACJ must also be given the required capacity to effectively undertake the investigative and prosecutorial functions inherent in criminal matters and ensure that the process of appointing of judges was transparent, participatory and competitive.
Four Kenyans are facing trials at ICC for their alleged roles in the bloody post-election violence which claimed over 1,300 lives, and caused destruction of property worth millions of shillings and displacement of nearly 500,000 people.
They are former deputy prime minister and minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta, former Higher Education minister William Ruto, former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and a radio presenter Joshua arap Sang.
The list had initially included former police chief Hussein Ali and former Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey, but the allegations against them were dropped during the pre-trial proceedings.
During its recent sessions in Nairobi, EALA urged the EAC council of ministers, the policy organ of the community, to request their respective states to support the move to have the four Kenyan politicians tried at the regional court instead of the ICC.
The premier Bar Association of EA brings together the Uganda Law Society, the Law Society of Kenya, Tanganyika Law Society, the Kigali Bar Association, the Burundi Bar Association and the Zanzibar Law Society.