Friday, 10 July 2009

ICC Chief Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo has his eyes trained on Kenya

Three Kenyan Government officials briefed the ICC's chief prosecutor on plans to prosecute those who committed violence during post-election upheavals. 

From The Standard, Nairobi, Kenya:
Candid talk with ICC prosecutor Ocampo
The International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo has his eyes trained on Kenya following the handing over of the envelope containing the names of suspects by Chief Mediator Kofi Annan.
KTN’s Beatrice Marshall interviewed Ocampo last week. Here are excerpts of the interview.

Question: You met members of the Kenyan delegation recently and reached an agreement on certain issues. Could you clarify?

Answer: Yes I met three Kenyan Government officials and they were briefing me on plans to prosecute those who committed violence during post-election upheavals. They informed me they have to go to Parliament to make a decision. However, they also expressed commitment that should they fail to pass a law, they will refer the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Q: Following the meeting, there are details emerging in Kenya to the effect that the deadline has been extended to July 2010. Could you confirm this?

A: As a prosecutor I respect genuine national proceedings. Kenya has already conducted national inquiries including the work done by the (Justice Philip) Waki Commission. At the moment Kenya is not doing anything and that is why it was important to have the meeting. Since they have informed us they are doing something, I would like to respect this. In the meantime, I asked them to provide me with certain information, which they committed to do as soon as possible.

I am collecting information and building my case and should they fail then I will step in immediately.

Q: Is there a timeline provided?

A: Kenya is a sovereign country my duty is not to give timelines or guidelines. The Kenyan Government promised during the meeting that they would have a detailed plan presented to us in September. They further indicated they suspect the process of investigation would take one year, which I presume is from September once they hand over the plan on how they intend to implement the investigations.

Q: There has been concern in Kenya that if the case were referred to the ICC proceedings would take long. How much of a priority is Kenya to ICC and if you intervene how fast will the process be?

A: In the Darfur case, the government was against the process, so the case took 20 months. In the case of Lord’s Resistance Army, the Ugandan government co-operated and provided information and the case took nine months. Kenya is providing information that is already being consolidated. If they do not start genuine proceedings, by next year I will be ready to start the case.

Q: After your talks with the Kenyan delegation, do you think the Kenyan political leadership is unwilling or unable to set up a Special Tribunal because the deadline keeps shifting?

A: I cannot make that judgement and have to be objective and look at the national proceedings and establish if the process is genuine.

Q: Has ICC started investigations into the Kenyan situation?

A: I am already collecting information and preparing my case to establish whether crimes against humanity were committed.  In the next one month, in September, the Kenyan delegation promised to be back with a detailed plan.  For now, let us wait and see. However, it is better a country establishes national proceedings. Colombia has done it and they are doing quite well

Q: Does the Kenyan situation warrant ICC intervention?

A:  Serious crimes against humanity are systematic attacks against civilian population, and from what happened the crimes were probably crimes against humanity.

Q: It has been acknowledged the violence may have been as a result of the stiff competition between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Based on the African Union position on the warrant of arrest for President Bashir of Sudan, is there hope for Kenyan people?

A: We have to differentiate between political responsibility and criminal responsibility. We are not doing a political analysis of the situation but rather want to prosecute those who did the crimes. No one is immune, no one is above the law and that is a promise to Kenyan people there will be no impunity. Depending on how it ends, it may end up being a classic model on how to handle conflict.

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