The African Union's call for the International Criminal Court to defer the crimes against humanity trials of Kenya's leadership is "deplorable", Amnesty International said Sunday.
The London-based human rights organisation said the AU, which also called for sitting heads of state to be exempt from appearing before the court in The Hague sent out the wrong message.
"This declaration sends the wrong message, that politicians on the African continent will place their political interests above those of victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty's deputy director of law and policy.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have been charged with crimes against humanity for allegedly masterminding a vicious campaign of ethnic violence that left at least 1,100 dead and more than 600,000 homeless after disputed 2007 elections.
Following last month's Islamist militant attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Kenyatta has already demanded he be allowed to appear by video link so he can deal with national security issues.
On Saturday he attacked the ICC as the "toy of declining imperial powers".
However, Hondora said the trials should still go ahead.
"Requesting the deferral of the trials of Kenyatta and Ruto would send a strong message that the victims of the post-election violence in Kenya don't matter.
"Victims of the post-election violence have waited over five years to see the cogs of justice turn after Kenya failed to deliver justice and the ICC stepped in.
"These trials should and must go ahead."