Saturday, 11 July 2009

Ocampo to open Waki envelope

From The Standard by Ben Agina, News Editor, 11 July 2009:
Ocampo to open Waki envelope
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo will on Monday open the envelope containing the names of key Government officials and prominent businessmen suspected of perpetrating post-election mayhem.

Mr Ocampo has confirmed he will open the envelope and other documents handed over to him by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Dr Annan gave the documents to Ocampo on Thursday. The former UN chief has had the documents since he received them from Justice Philip Waki in October, last year. Justice Waki chaired the commission that investigated post-election violence.

Ocampo said: "On Monday (tomorrow), I will be back in my office and probably open the envelopes to understand what they say. But I will seal them again."

The news of the opening of the envelope will further heighten the anxiety that has gripped the country.

Up to now, it is only Justice Philip Waki who knows the contents of the envelope he gave Annan when he completed work of the Commission of Inquiry Into Post-Election Violence.

Justice Waki’s mandate was to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the violence, the conduct of State security agencies, and to make recommendations on these and other matters.

Speaking in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Saturday, Ocampo recalled the visit by a Kenyan delegation to his offices at The Hague, late last month.

"They confirmed the commitment of Kenya to end impunity for the crimes committed during the post-election time, "said Ocampo, in the interview, with The Standard on Sunday stringer, then in the DRC.

He said the delegation comprising Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo, Attorney General Amos Wako, and Lands Minister James Orengo, informed him the Government plans to establish a local tribunal to try the suspects.

But Ocampo said, they also told him Parliament had a different position and wants suspects of post-election chaos referred to the International Criminal Court.

Post-election violence

"In the meantime, they commit themselves to provide all the information they have, on the allegations and crimes committed," said Ocampo.

It was after this, Ocampo disclosed, that Annan called him, saying: "Hey, look. I also have to give you the information I have. And he handed over boxes with documents and an envelope with names of persons under suspicion that the Waki commission considered we have to investigate."

While handing over the envelope to Ocampo, Annan "welcomed the Government’s renewed efforts to implement the recommendations of the Waki Commission and to establish a special tribunal".

Annan said: "Any judicial mechanism adopted to bring the perpetrators of post-election violence to justice must meet international legal standards and be broadly debated with all sectors of the Kenyan society to bring credibility to the process."

The former UN chief, who headed the Panel of Eminent Persons that brokered peace in Kenya early last year, said it "reaffirms its conviction that combating impunity and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the post-election violence in Kenya is fundamental to the country’s reform agenda".

Mr Annan added: "Justice delayed is justice denied. The people of Kenya want to see concrete progress on the fight against impunity. Without such progress, the reconciliation between ethnic groups and the long-term stability of Kenya is in jeopardy."

On Monday, Ocampo will be back at The Hague after a tour of African countries that took him to Ethiopia and the DRC.

"So on Monday (tomorrow), I will open the envelopes to understand what they say, but will seal them again. It is just advice. I have to make my own impartial judgement," he said, in Kinshasa, the DRC capital.

He reiterated that Kenya is committed to deal with the post-election atrocities. But he pointed out: "If they cannot do it, assuming it is clear they cannot do it, and they refer the case to me or not I will be ready with all the information I need to start a very fast investigation".

War crimes

At least 1,200 Kenyans were killed in the violence, 600,000 displaced, and many jobs lost. Most of those displaced in the post-2007 General Election violence are yet to be resettled.

Ocampo spoke as an African Union (AU) panel led by former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki backed the ICC indictment of Sudanese officials, including President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for war crimes.

The panel’s recommendation showed the differences around Africa over the indictment for crimes in the Darfur conflict.

An AU summit in Libya last week voted to suspend co-operation with the ICC on the matter.

Mr Mbeki told reporters that the panel of eight eminent Africans had consulted widely in and outside Sudan.

"The consensus is that those charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity should appear in court and defend themselves," he said.

"The warrant has been issued. There is nothing that can be done."

The ICC has indicted Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture.

But he has dismissed the allegations as part of a Western conspiracy, and the AU has sought a deferment of the indictment, saying it has complicated peace efforts in Darfur.

UN officials say the Darfur conflict in Sudan’s western region has killed as many as 300,000 people since 2003.

—Additional reporting by Reuters

Friday, 10 July 2009

USA - President Obama's popularity slipping

From EU Digest, 09 July 2009 - excerpt:
USA - President Obama's popularity slipping
A recent Rasmussen poll shows hat 30% of the US voters now strongly approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-eight percent (38%) strongly disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential approval rating of –8. Thirty-nine percent (39%) now give the President good or excellent marks for handling the economy while 43% say he is doing a poor job. Overall, 51% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance so far. Forty-eight percent (48%) disapprove.

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.