, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 1 – Kenya has welcomed the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) giving Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo the mandate to open investigations on 20 suspected perpetrators of the post election violence.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula and Attorney General Amos Wako said on Thursday that Kenya would accord necessary assistance to Mr Ocampo as he begins his investigations.
Mr Wetangula also said the ICC Prosecutor was only following due process of the law which allowed him to delve into the Kenyan situation.
“We cannot and did not report ourselves to the ICC but we have domesticated the Rome Statute and we will fully cooperate. I think Ocampo is being very careful and he is not pre-judging any issues; he says I have a list of 20 and it will depend on how much evidence I gather,” he said.
Mr Wako further added that since Kenya was a signatory to the Rome Statute meant that it was now obligated to employ all means possible to protect witnesses who held evidence of the violence. He said that Wednesday’s decision by the ICC compelled the government to protect witnesses even further.
“The Witness Protection Amendment Bill is going to be given priority in enacting and as soon as the constitutional matters are over from Parliament, it will be one of the Bills that will be debated and enacted. It will create an independent agency that can have covert operations to be able to effectively protect witnesses,” he said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister was also quick to caution Kenyans against allowing the ICC development to derail the country’s constitution making process. He said the country could not afford to create sideshows that would derail the constitutional review process.
“We are on a very critical stretch. Moreno Ocampo; the envelope… the suspects, The Hague. All these have been with us for the last two and a half years. I want to plead with you to focus on the constitution process and the final leg that we have so that we do not sensationalise things and foul the mood which can undermine the process,” he said.
He further explained that the ICC prosecutor would only get the go-ahead to prosecute and arrest the suspected financiers and perpetrators of the violence based on the results of his investigations.
“After he investigates and puts together the file on each of the 20 or whatever number which may include some of you here, he will place those files before the judges again. They will go through the evidence gathered and form their considered legal opinion. If they find baseless evidence, they will close the files,” he said.
“If they find credible evidence that can lead to credible prosecution then they will allow him to issue indictments.”
Mr Wetangula advised potential witnesses to assist the ICC prosecutor by appearing before him to give their accounts.
“I know that even those who are guilty can only be convicted depending on the evidence presented before the court. If no witness turns up or you bring hopeless witnesses then the case doesn’t stand the test of the day,” he said.