Listen to Ocampo\’s audio interview
THE HAGUE, Apr 29 – “Those who caused violence in 2007/2008 were aiming to have a seat in the Cabinet, but they have to understand if you commit violence you have a seat in jail! says International Criminal Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
In this exclusive interview with Capital News, Mr Ocampo affirms his commitment to pursue the perpetrators and also shares his thoughts about international justice and the importance of cooperation by member States.
“The weakest people are the victims, the women and the children,” said the prosecutor.
The man, widely perceived in Kenya as the deliverer of justice explains what motivates his stressful and risky job which entails dealing with powerful individuals.
Q. Tell us about Luis Moreno-Ocampo
A. I am the Prosecutor of the ICC. My work is to investigate massive crimes when the nationals are not doing that. Particularly people in the slums… sometimes they are ignored and I would like to listen to them and they have to listen to me too because I have to represent them in court. Sometimes they are victims of this type of crimes. Even as a global prosecutor I would like to work for them.
When someone is protected by someone else, I should not interfere. In Colombia there are national prosecutors doing the job so I don’t need to intervene, so I intervene when the people are not presented, (when) no one is taking care of their interests. That is why I like this job. I have to go normally to people who are ignored, very poor, marginalised and then. Yes! We go and work for them.
Q. Is it that Kenya doesn’t have a strong judicial system to prosecute the crimes you are handling?
A. No, we are not making any judgment on the Kenyan judicial system. In fact one of the judges at the ICC is Kenyan. The problem is, there are no national proceedings in Kenya about the post election violence, and that is the issue. When there are no cases, we do a case.
Normally the States organise themselves to have their own police, their own Judiciary. But with these massive crimes they agreed to have this International Criminal Court, so when a country like Kenya joined the court, we are part of the Kenyan justice system. We are the independent part of Kenyan judicial system supported by Kenya, supported by other 110 member States. Then our job is to end impunity for the most serious crimes and that is what we are doing. What we expect from the state parties such as Kenya, is respect for the law and support.
Q. How will the ICC deal with powerful individuals who are suspects?
A. We will be looking at the crimes. I will prosecute the most responsible because really we are a court where we focus on the most responsible. We cannot investigate many people here.
At the same time we respect the accused rights. In Kenya some people are suspects but we will see if they are guilty or not, so as a prosecutor I have to be impartial.
It is my duty to investigate – incriminating but also exonerating to seek for justice. We are willing to meet and receive those considered to be suspects and listen to them and what they have to say.
Q. Is the ICC also concerned with the process of Truth Justice and Reconciliation in countries under its investigation?
A. Yes! We would like to work with others like truth and justice commissions and local leaders among others. This is important as the common goal is to be sure that the next election in 2012 is peaceful.
We are more than happy to work with whoever is working with this goal and in fact I m going to Kenya in May and I would like to meet the local leaders, people in the slums, discussing how we can help them. I came from Argentina when there were serious crimes. The way to reconcile is to establish the law because if someone raped my daughter no one can force me to reconcile with this person, in this case the rapist. However, according to a legal system, I cannot kill the rapist, so that is why the justice effort could help to reconcile the people.
Q. You seem to believe that reconciliation processes are important. Explain this further.
A. We need to organise a system to live together not just in Kenya but in the world. The issue is to live together. I remember I met with President Museveni in Uganda because he invited President Bashir and he explained to me that Bashir is his tribe, you cannot understand and I said, I love the tribal idea. In fact you and I are in the same tribe, we are the ICC tribe, a bigger tribe.
Because you are the Bashir tribe, invite him to Uganda, then arrest him. For me whatever we are building is a global tribe. The basic idea is no more massive killing… we are united for this but this is a very important tribe.
Q. Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir has been indicted, yet he hasn’t been arrested. Do you think Kenyan suspects will be arrested?
A. The problem is al Bashir is using the army and the police and the State operatives to commit crime. Here in Kenya, the government is not committing crime; the government is trying to control crime.
So I think the Kenya State will help to arrest the people. But there is always a chance and we are evaluating every moment that the accused appear voluntarily and we don’t have to arrest them.
In each country we request territorial States to arrest individuals. That is what we are requesting Sudan to arrest Al Bashir and he has a responsibility to appear voluntarily in court.
Q. When you last visited Kenya in November 2009, PEV victims were not happy that you didn’t meet with them. Why did you choose not to?
A. I had my limits because I could not meet with the victims before the judges authorised my investigations. That is why I said I will come to Kenya as soon as the judges authorise my investigations to meet the victims.
The President and the Prime Minister are in charge of Kenya, so I had to inform them what I had come to do. I had to inform them that I would open investigations requesting the judges’ authorisation. Now it is my time to meet the victims. It will be the beginning. I will see how many places I can visit, but I will try to come back in September or October to be there again and meet more victims.
Q. What is your itinerary when you come to Kenya in May?
A. I will come to Kenya to listen to victims. I will ask what happened to you, how were you affected? I don’t want people thinking I’m coming to put you in jail. They have to understand my mandate, what I can do and what I cannot do. I will fulfill my role. I will do what I am promising to do. I would like to tell the Kenyan people to keep reporting justice and justice will come to them.
Q. Israel and the US are not signatories to the ICC Treaty. Why should Kenya be a member and what do you mean that Kenya will be an example to the world, is it a threat?
A. Kenya accepted the idea as many as 29 other African countries, as Europe, as South America. We suffered crime during the pre-colonial time, we suffered crimes during the cold war, and that is why we learn the law is important to protect us. It is showing the sophistication of Kenya to accept and join the treaty and the others will learn.
They feel they can be protected by armies, and we are thinking no! We can be protected by law. That is why we are saying Kenya will be an example to show that. It will be an example of how we can use the law to do justice for the victims and to prevent violence in the future, it is the example we are giving together; the Kenyan people, the Kenyan authorities and the court working together.
Q. Kenyans have a high level of trust and expectations in you. Should they?
A. Oh, I (hope) they continue to trust me. I would like to see them, to be connected to them who are the poorest. I will do a couple of cases. It will not be the end of the story but the beginning of the story. I believe this will help a lot to understand that there will be no more violence.