Today, the International Criminal Court’s began its “confirmation on charges” hearings for the Ocampo Six, and the conventional wisdom holds that the proceedings will be a major test for some of Kenya’s savviest politicians. However, the ICC hearings also present an important hurdle for the nearly decade-old judicial body behind them, the International Criminal Court, and its outspoken Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Although the Court began in 2002, its relationship with Africa has been contentious, rife with misunderstanding, and seldom free from criticism.[i] Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor since 2003 and the only person to hold the title, has taken ownership of the Kenyan indictments, propelling the process from the initial investigations, to the first Hague appearances last April, to the September confirmation hearings. Last December, the Kenyan media quickly branded the indicted Kenyans as the “Ocampo Six”—but a more apt title may have been “Ocampo’s Six,” given the Argentine prosecutor’s level of involvement in the investigations. Ever since the prosecutor untied the ribbon on Kofi Annan’s mysterious envelope, the proceedings, and the six men involved, have been his for the keeping. Across the continent and in Kenya specifically, it’s well known that the Court and Moreno-Ocampo have image issues. Many in Africa […]
Kenya is, according to the writer Billy Kahora, a ‘half-made place,’ a country of ‘parallel universes, parallel economies, parallel lives, futures and realities.’[i] One does need to look hard these days to find the parallel universes and realities. On one hand, the country is still celebrating the promulgation of a new progressive constitution last year. The judiciary is being overhauled, some of the powers of an over-mighty executive dismantled and partial devolution to new county authorities is under way. In an address to the nation made to mark the first anniversary of the constitution, President Mwai Kibaki told Kenyans that the new constitution ‘is a guarantee that the Kenyan people shall henceforth resolve any potential conflict through the rule of law.’[ii] On the other hand, Kibaki and other leading politicians have been engaged in a sustained effort to deny that very same rule of law. Besides the constitution, the big story over the past year has been the two ongoing cases at the International Criminal Court in which six prominent individuals are alleged to have overseen the violence that followed the dispute 2007 presidential election. Beginning on 1 September, the six – Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, ex-Higher Education Minister William […]
On 1st September the International Criminal Court will decided whether it opens trials against six Kenyan high ranking officials charged to be the most responsible for the 2007/8 post election violence. The suspects include Kenya’s deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, the secretary to the cabinet Francis Kirimi Muthaura, and the minister for industrialisation Henry Kosgey. Those, and three additional suspects, have been investigated on five counts of crimes against humanity, namely murder, forcible transfer of population, rape and other forms of sexual violence, inhumane acts, and persecution on political grounds. Will the judges decide to proceed to the trial stage in the Kenya case? Most probably yes because Kenya has yet to show that it would investigate the suspects for the charges they face in The Hague. Should the judges let the case proceed to trial stage? Most probably not, because the Kenya case provides the Court with a unique chance to demonstrate its willingness to strengthen African judicial systems and take its mandate as Court of last resort serious. By Sabine Hoehn – Edinburgh University It is not the first time that the ICC has investigated high-ranking officials – the Court’s arrest warrant against Sudanese President el-Beshir two years […]
Ripples have recently been caused by the a section of the Kenyan government seeking a deferral of the process of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – that has cited 6 Kenyans for alleged crimes against humanity (dating from the 2007/08 post-election violence). Similarly, a statement attributed to President Al Bashir of Sudan to the effect that the ICC arrest warrant against him should be lifted following the referendum in Southern Sudan raises interesting questions. I will briefly consider the law and politics of the deferral process as well as possible outcomes of the process, including the implications for the ICC.
African countries are critical actors for the International Criminal Court (ICC). While it is clear that Africa forms the largest bloc of ICC member states, and that this year’s review conference of the Rome Statute has taken place in Uganda, other facts are often overlooked.
The necessity of transitional justice in Kenya and the merits of certain institutional mechanisms in particular have been vigorously debated in this forum, as well as within the country itself. In both of these contexts, the perspectives of victims of past violence have received only modest attention.
As the ICC Review Conference nears, it is time to consider how best to create a form of international criminal justice that is culturally and socially appropriate in non-Western settings.
The long-running debate about whether seeking justice for grave international crimes interferes with prospects for peace has intensified as the possibility of national leaders being brought to trial for human rights violations becomes more likely. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which is mandated to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, began operations in 2003 and has already issued its first arrest warrant for a sitting head of state—Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.
At a meeting with Africanist scholars in London in 2007, Luis Moreno-Ocampo faced tough questioning over why the ICC had decided to pursue only the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and ignore the Ugandan government’s alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly its devastating policy of mass forced displacement and internment. Finally, his patience apparently having run out, Ocampo interrupted one of his most insistent questioners and, pointing an accusatory finger, burst out: “If you want to support the LRA, fine! But you should know they are a criminal organization.” This type of response—ad hominem attacks on those who question his actions—appears to be part of a wider pattern of behavior on the part of the Prosecutor, charted most damningly by Alex de Waal and Julie Flint, and has done much to undermine the legitimacy of the ICC. This has led some ICC supporters to maintain that the Court’s problems will be greatly ameliorated once a new Chief Prosecutor takes the reins. As much as I agree that Ocampo represents a major problem for the ICC, I also believe that focusing on his personal failings obscures the deeper, structural problems with the Court as it is constituted. These problems will […]
On 18 February 2010, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber II issued a Decision Requesting Clarification and Additional Information in the Situation in the Republic of Kenya. Paragraph 12 states: “the Chamber notes that to meet the requirements of a crime against humanity under the Statute, the acts committed must, inter alia, be carried out ‘pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy’ within the meaning of article 7(2)(a) of the Statute”. There is an ambiguity in article 7 of the ICC’s Statute that is glossed over by the Pre-Trial Chamber II. Article 7(1) states: For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a population… And then 7(2) states: For the purpose of paragraph 1: (a) “Attack directed against a population” means a course of conduct involving the multiple commissions of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such an attack; The ambiguity concerns whether the State policy requirement means the same thing for both the condition of “widespreadness” and for […]