, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – Human Rights Watch has welcomed Wednesday’s guilty verdict against DRC warlord Thomas Lubanga saying it serves as an example to countries that have denied justice to victims of violence and war.
Speaking to Capital News from Malindi, Human Rights Watch Researcher for Africa Division Neela Ghoshal said the ruling demonstrates a direction Kenya is likely to follow for failing to give justice to victims of the 2008 post-election violence.
“When victims do not have a place to seek for justice within their country, there is an option to seek justice and that is what happened with Lubanga’s case,” she asserted.
Ghoshal said up to now, Kenya has not yet prosecuted people responsible for the crimes that left over 1,300 people dead and over 300,000 others displaced.
She also said it was a new source of hope for victims who have been for many years waiting to see justice after the post election violence.
“It is a lesson for Kenya that like Congo, Kenya has also been unwilling to investigate the post election violence. The ICC has done its job, let’s hope it will do the same job in the Kenyan cases,” she opined.
The researcher also saw the ruling as big accomplishment for ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo who has been criticised for his ‘shoddy’ investigations into the Kenya case.
She said the ICC is a new process, and that many cases that have been going on had not yet been concluded.
She also dismissed the allegations saying it is normal to have convictions or acquittals in a court process.
“There are people who have been criticising the work of Ocampo… that he has not won any conviction, they should know not all the cases have been concluded and also the court is new,” she explained.
Ghoshal further viewed the ruling as a huge success for the court which will give it more confidence to pursue even more cases.
Ugandan lawyer David Matsanga who has been vigorously opposed to Ocampo’s work has not changed his position even after the ICC ruled against Lubanga.
He alleged the judges had been pulled to political inclinations portrayed by Ocampo especially in the Kenyan cases.
“That was a political verdict, the bench has been politicised by Ocampo. Ocampo’s investigations are bungled. In fact, this ruling is the pattern that he has been using on Kenya. I have always warned you,” he asserted.
International Centre for Transitional Justice Acting Head Christine Alai also welcomed the ruling saying it was a message to other countries that there is accountability for crimes. She said even though the case is distinct from the Kenyan one, it gives hope to the victims of the 2008 post-election violence.