UK to fund relocation of ICC witnesses

November 26, 2010 12:00 am

, THE HAGUE, Nov 26 – Britain has donated Sh25.3 million to a special fund of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for relocations of witnesses at risk from Kenya.

A statement posted on the ICC website on Friday said the money would be given to countries willing to host the witnesses but are not in a position to finance such support.

It also seeks to foster regional solutions for the relocation of witnesses at risk, thereby reducing the impact of transfers on their life.

"This donation constitutes an important gesture towards the victims and witnesses of post-election violence in Kenya, and towards international justice and the common fight against impunity," the statement said.

The court added that the witness protection programme should help encourage witnesses to be more confident in contributing to the investigation, assisting the goal of accountability that the victims and others have been campaigning for.

"Using such arrangements, the court also seeks to galvanise cooperation partners into strengthening national capacity to protect witnesses in such regional states."

The court is investigating the deadly 2008 post election violence that led to over 1,333 deaths and displacement of over 600,000 people. ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has said he will be presenting cases against six individuals to the ICC judges by end of next month.

The grant comes in the wake of controversy surrounding the housing of the witnesses by the State-run Kenya National Commission on Human rights with two of its witnesses saying that they were bribed by the commission to implicate Eldoret North MP William Ruto. This was preceded by claims that some suspects had attempted to compromise witnesses and investigators.

However in the statement, the court said it remains concerned about continuing reports of witness intimidation and official interference.
"Those who attempt to subvert the search for justice should be aware that they also could find themselves accountable for their actions in The Hague," said the statement.

The cooperation agreement was signed by Paul Arkwright, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Registrar of the Court, Silvana Arbia.

Before signing the Understanding, the Registrar noted that "by making a substantial donation to the Special Fund, the United Kingdom stands as an example to other States\’ willingness to support victims and witnesses who are at risk on account of their interaction with the Court".

The Ambassador stated that "The UK supports the court\’s work, with the Kenyan Government, to promote justice for the many victims of the post-election violence.

As the court was getting the assistance Kenya reiterated its commitment to fully cooperating with the International Criminal Court to facilitate its mandate in the country.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti who is the chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee coordinating ICC matters outlined key steps the State has taken to facilitate the court\’s work including appointing a designated judge to facilitate the recording of statement from Provincial Commissioners and Police chiefs. Others include facilitating the establishment of an ICC office in the country, handing over of documents, reports and minutes and the gazetting of regulations or the implementation of the International Crimes Act.

"The Office of Prosecutor has continually expressed satisfaction with the level of the government\’s cooperation," he said.

The court\’s statement vindicated Prof Saitoti\’s view saying: "We welcome the Kenyan Government\’s cooperation with the Court on this case."


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