Kenya vows to protect ICC witnesses

May 11, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has said that the Kenyan government has assured him that it would protect victims and witnesses of the 2007/2008 post election violence.

Mr Ocampo said he brought up the matter during a meeting with a Cabinet committee on Monday evening, where Ministers in attendance promised to come up with solutions of protecting victims and witnesses.

“I raised the issue yesterday in my meeting with the Ministers.  That was my main topic and they recognised they have to agree with the police because some of the victims were injured by the police,” he said.

Protection of witnesses and victims has been a major concern with reported cases of intimidation in different parts of the country.

Barely a day after Mr Ocampo spoke with the government, a human rights group said it was overwhelmed by the number of possible victims of the post election violence seeking refuge under its wings.

Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director Muthoni Wanyeki said that the commission was in the process of gathering advocates to represent the victims once Mr Ocampo commenced his case.

Mr Ocampo also asked the government and Kenyans to deal with the post-poll chaos conclusively by addressing other challenges posed by the violence such as dealing with perpetrators charged with smaller responsibility, resettlement of the internally displaced persons as well as healing of the country.

Although he had started investigations in the country, he clarified that the bigger task of addressing post election violence would best be handled locally.

The Prosecutor once again said Kenya should be an example of a three-tier approach comprising ICC investigations, a local tribunal and the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

“Kofi Annan (Former UN Secretary General) was talking about a three-pronged approach, and I like this.  There are people who lost their houses, they need compensation, people who contracted HIV, they need support and counselling. There are different ways to do justice today for the victims of the crimes,” he asserted.

During a Tuesday morning interaction with journalists especially from community and vernacular radio stations, the Prosecutor patiently dedicated his time listening to experiences of the reporters during the violence.

Some journalists narrated how they had to change their identities because of the stories they published while others explained the trauma they went through after witnessing brutal killings in their own country.

He emphasised his desire to work with the media which he said was the proper link to the people especially those affected by the violence.

Just like in most of his other forums, his questions of where trials of the Kenyan perpetrators should be held saw most journalists support The Hague due to lack of trust in African institutions and fear of manipulation by suspects.

However, there were some who believed having the trials in Africa would be a milestone in restoring the continent’s confidence and bringing institutional memory.

The Prosecutor interacted with the media when he opened the Internews office in Nairobi.

Internews-Kenya has been at the forefront of training the local media on land and conflict sensitive journalism among other topical issues in the country.

The forum provided a proper platform for journalists to share with him their views on his investigations and also answer their questions concerning the ICC proceedings in their country.

Although his intention seemed to enjoy massive support in the country, most people want to be assured that at the end of his investigations key perpetrators will be arrested.

Mr Ocampo who leaves the country on Wednesday evening, is expected to address the media before his departure.


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