BY LUIS MORENO OCAMPO
Monday’s ruling is critically important in many dimensions. The decision is establishing individual responsibility for the post electoral violence but also for a peaceful Kenya.
We appreciate that the judges explained the decision in a public session and that there has been no reports of violence as a result.
Judges confirmed that the first acts of violence in 2007/08 were planned and organised by members of the ODM led by Ruto a year in advance. This generated retaliatory attacks against ODM supporters. The International Criminal Court has identified those who have to face justice. There are substantial grounds to believe they committed the crimes they are charged with but they are still presumed innocent.
Another significance of the ruling is that it defined what crimes against humanity are. It goes back to Nuremberg and makes clear that no country has sovereignty to attack civilians.
Talking about legal definitions, contrary to the Prosecution’s allegations, the Chamber finds that acts of forcible circumcision do not constitute other forms of sexual violence but other inhumane acts (since not every act of violence targeted against a body part commonly associated with sexuality is sexual in nature.)
As any other court the ICC is making factual and legal decisions, but ICC intervention is helping Kenya move to a more peaceful future with no costs. In 2008, Kofi Annan helped establish peace in Kenya but what would be the cost of another post election violence in Kenya? More lives lost, more people displaced and not to mention millions in money.
We also appreciate the fact that the accused appeared voluntarily before the court. This goes to show Kenya is managing its transition to a less violent future. President Kibaki committed to solve the problems of victims of violence still displaced. Victims do not have to wait for a conviction before they receive any help. The government of Kenya has a responsibility to help its citizens. And to protect them. The Office is concerned about allegations of attacks against victims of the crimes.
Let me look to the future now.
We will keep investigating Kosgey and the activities of the police as well as crimes allegedly committed in Kibera and Kisumu. We will not appeal the decision.
Some of the accused have stated that they will appeal the decision. President Kibaki said Kenyan legal teams are studying the ruling. This is a legal right for the accused. The prosecution is preparing for trial but if the judges accept the appeal, this will delay the beginning of the trial. This further delay may be frustrating for victims but this is the legal process and we have to respect it.
It is in the hands of Kenyans themselves to solve the problems in Kenya. Kenya must decide on the candidates for the upcoming election and seize the opportunity to discuss the way forward and invest in the future.
(Ocampo is the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court)