Continuing Witness Fears as Ocampo due in Kenya Saturday

ICC Chief Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo will spend five days in Kenya, including visits with victims and to areas most affected by post election violence, and a public question-and-answer session, along with civil society, religious and business groups. He has also offered to meet with those who believe they may be unfairly identified as suspects.

In the meantime, the EU envoys have spoken out against a continuing climate of fear for potential witnesses. A variety of reports indicate a pattern of intimidation and threats against prospective witnesses, and concerns have been raised about leaks of witness identities from within the Kenya National Human Rights Commission which has done much of the initial investigative work on the violence. A former senior official of the Kenyan Administration Police is said to be among those who have fled the country for safety in the absence of an effective witness protection program in Kenya.

The Indian Ocean Newsletter reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta hosted a meeting with Ministers William Ruto and Najib Balala at his Nairobi residence April 4 “to agree their stories for the ICC.”

Nairobi Star: Possible ICC suspect list leaks

From allAfrica.com, the Nairobi Star reports that they have obtained a leaked list that appears to be a working document from the ICC prosecutor’s office from last fall identifying people who may be subject to investigation by the prosecutor in relation to Kenya’s post-election violence.

The Star does not name names, but includes basic descriptions and categories, some of which become fairly obvious.

The “Nairobi Curse”

This is Kenya’s version of “the oil curse” or “the resource curse”.

Nairobi is the place to be in Sub-Saharan Africa (and outside of South Africa) for international meetings and conferences.  It is a relatively comfortable place to live for middle class or wealthy Westerners, or young aid workers.  An international city with a certain level of cosmopolitanism, yet of manageable size and scope relative to so many burgeoning cities of the less developed “South”.  A headquarters for two UN agencies.  A diplomatic critical mass, with lots of representation from all sorts of countries around the world that have little obvious presence in Africa, but also a crossroads for representation of everyone playing for a major piece of the pie (Iran, Libya, China, India, the Gulf States–as well as obviously the US and Europe).  And you can go on business, and then take a safari on the side.

From the US, soldiers go to Djibouti (the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, at Camp Lemonier) while diplomats go to Nairobi.  The US runs its Somali diplomacy from the Embassy to Kenya rather than Djibouti which would be the more obvious place on paper.  Likewise, Somali politicians tend to live much of the time in Nairobi.   Nairobi is the place to invest cash generated in Somalia.

Nairobi is the “back office”, and in some cases the only office, for much of relatively huge amount of US aid-related effort for Southern Sudan, as well as that from other countries.

Nairobi has something like 8% of the Kenyan population, and perhaps 60% of the GDP (don’t let anyone tell you they know any of these figures too precisely).  Perhaps 50-60 percent of the population lives in informal settlements (“slums”) whereas the other half lives as “the other half”.  Most national level Kenyan politicians holding office live primarily in Nairobi (although they may have homes in a constituency they represent in Parliament as well).

When I was the East Africa Director, based in Nairobi, for IRI (where our much bigger Sudan program was also  headquartered) as an American I felt that my government at that time (2007-2008) was falling into the trap of recreating a Cold War paradigm for our international relations by looking around through our “War on Terrorism” telescope.  And that in Kenya there were a lot of international interests that valued stability over reforms for reasons that related more to the current role of Nairobi than the long term interests of Kenyan development.

Certainly Nairobi is a resource that has great value–as does oil, for instance–it’s just a question of whether Kenyans can find a way to use it to the broad advantage of the nation or whether it will continue to be exploited to disproportionately benefit the most powerful.  Including being used to help keep them in power when more Kenyans want democratic change.

Just this past week Kenya hosted an IGAD meeting on Sudan–and flouted its obligations as a party to the Rome Treaty on the ICC by inviting President Bashir of Sudan while under indictment.  Meanwhile the ICC is considering whether to allow formal  investigation of key Kenyan leaders for the post-election violence from 2007-08.  But Nairobi is such a great place to have these conferences . . . and Sudan is so important (Khartoum is no Nairobi, but it has oil).

Nairobi Kenya Microsoft billboard "We see Africa's potential"
“We see Africa’s potential”

“The Reckoning”–The ICC in Mississippi and Kenya

For the first time, I have an occasion to post about something taking place right here “on the ground” in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Last night my daughter and I attended a screening of the film “The Reckoning”, the documentary story of “the battle for the International Criminal Court”, at our town’s arts and culture center. We both found it inspiring and greatly enjoyed getting to meet and talk with Director Pamela Yates who was accompanying the film on a “Southern Series”.

The film website has been on my links to the right since about the time I started this blog and I would highly recommend it. It gives background for the Court concept dating back to the Nuremberg trials and has lots of coverage of the development of the cases in Northern Uganda and Eastern Congo, as well as Darfur. Good insight on Ocampo and the prosecutors working with him. Ms. Yates is deeply engaged and knowledgeable–and she and her colleagues are following the proceedings before the Court in Kenya.

Her previous film, “State of Fear” involved the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in Peru.

For more information on the ICC–including news from the Kenya inquiry–and citizen activism to support it, go to IJCentral:

Skylight Pictures and the International Center for Transitional Justice Productions (ICTJP) are producing a 3-year campaign to build a global grassroots movement to support an effective international justice system, with IJCentral at its core. By joining the IJCentral global community, you will be kept informed about developments with the ICC and other international justice cases, and your voice will be heard by our leaders and policy makers, letting them know that we want perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide to be held to account.

Kenya: Ocampo gives list of 20 suspects to ICC

Daily Nation: Kenya chaos: Ocampo gives list of 20 to ICC

The Standard: Ocampa tables 20 names for prosecution

As noted, it appears that Ocampo has broader ambitions than the number of 4-6 top suspects mooted previously in public discussions by others.

Kenya: 40% Done?

Approaching Jamhuri Day, a year after the protests and arrests over the Media Bill at the 2008 celebration, the “Government of National Unity” has now expended 40 percent of the potential time remaining before the end of the second Kibaki term and the next election.

I always agreed with those who felt that a stop-gap coalition government was only appropriate as an interim measure, rather than for a full five year term as insisted on by the US government at the time, and I have remained skeptical about how much of substance can be agreed on by this sort of coalition that goes beyond things that are merely of common interest to all members of the current political class.

To start with, it took a full year to fire the old ECK.  In return for severance and impunity–and impunity of the worst kind in that there was no attempt to actually investigate the conduct of the commission and all were treated equally regardless of whether they tried in good faith to do their jobs or not.  They even managed to get away with declining to turn over key records to the Kreigler Commission.

Another year later, it certainly appears that the alleged legislative agreement to “implement” the Waki Report is no deeper than a press release.  While Annan has stayed engaged and Ocampo has stepped up, the reality remains that almost two years after the election what we have legally are only preliminary steps that  might lead to a full investigation that might later lead to legal charges that might later lead to actual trials–and only for the limited category of “crimes against humanity” as opposed to murder, rape, mayhem, bribery, extortion and all the other things that account for what happened with the election and its aftermath.  At this point, I am skeptical that the ICC process is all that likely to run its course before the 2012 campaign begins in earnest.

We have seen a successful rebellion against the president’s reappointment of the KACC head, but we haven’t seen new investigations keeping up with the new scandals, much less starting to work on the backlog.

On the positive front, we have the promulgation of the draft proposed constitution and the seizure of a very large cache of weapons.   We’ve seen draft constitutions in years past–maybe this will go better, and if so, it has the potential to direct some of the competition in 2012 in slightly different directions than what we have seen in other recent elections, which might be good.  Maybe we will have follow up investigations, arrests and prosecutions from the weapons seizure and there will be some accountability for the people involved–if not, at least we will have clarified how badly Kenya is in trouble in regard to the flow of weapons.

On balance, it seems to me that as we enter 2010 people who care about Kenya while remaining committed to democracy in the international community need some fresh thinking beyond the occasional jawboning and visa bans.   You can sometimes pressure people into doing specific things that you want them to do–you can’t pressure people into transforming their character and priorities.  And surely the US isn’t relying primarily on the ICC since we decline to join.

UPDATE–Some good news of sorts:  http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/820330/-/item/1/-/lmlu84/-/index.html“>The Daily Nation reports:

They said they are investigating the theory that a senior security officer and a foreign military base were connected to the illegal military equipment.

One of the leads being followed is that the officer, based at the AP Training College, facilitated the smuggling of bullets out of the institution.

Detectives said they suspected that the bulk of the bullets came from the AP armoury and the foreign military base in Northern Kenya.

Of course, we have a classic example of Kenyan reporting in an era of a partially free press:  important news, but “the foreign military base in Northern Kenya” . . . . hmm, which one?