Tag Archives: International Criminal Court


[42/365] New Passport

Image by Ben Dodson via Flickr

Clara Gutteridge a British Human Right investigator whose job is to find victims of enforced disappearances has been deported from Kenya.  The local newspapers are mute, blank or, assuming I did not look in the right places, slow in providing this information to their readers.

Foreign correspondents are more aware of what is going on in Kenya.
Correction; the Kenyan media is gagged by higher authorities not to be too zealous in providing information.

Clara Gutteridge was looking into the illegal deportation and detention of terror suspects from Kenya to Uganda.
Her search was probably uncomfortable and collaterally enhanced Uganda’s infringement of human rights and treatment of political opponents. Also, it could have raised questions about the Kenya’s government insistence in siding with the alleged perpetrator of crime against humanity by the International criminal court in The Hague.

Let me hush that the mere presence of people like Clara Gutteridge triggers collateral damage.

The Kenyan vice President’s world excursions to gather opinion in favor of having the ICC alleged suspects delayed or judged at home are well documented. The government even approved rallies idolizing these suspects.

The blessing by the mother of one of the suspects is front news while the twenty-five Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) who died for eating cats,  because they have not received food from the governments in months,  is allocated to sections of news lacking prime.

An IDP is someone who leaves his residence due to internal conflict. In Kenya the internal conflict was triggered by a rigged election seeing almost 1300 killed and almost half million IDP in 2007-2008.

Strange things have happened in Kenya. People turned up dead with their face removed with acid, other are kidnapped or killed in broad day light, extra judicial killers are in the prowl but the news are not investigated.  One page spread to tell the mass that this-and-that happened is enough.

Anyway, I believe that it must be quite nerve-racking to be an ICC prosecution witness in Kenya.

Like Linus the media takes its blue blanket, sucks its thumb, close its eyes and gesture go away, go away in its nightmares.
It is pure coincidence that van Pelt, Peanut’s character, and Gitahi, the CEO of the Nation Media Group (NMG), share the same first name. NMG is the largest Media house with TV channels and lots of newspapers and magazine in East Africa.

The government set the tone and the media execute it in favor of some of the alleged criminals vying for the most important post of the country. Well, it seems that Kenya may have suspects of crimes against humanity declared or not innocent running for the presidency in 2012.

I think that Clara Gutteridge touched a raw nerve in Kenya. Anyway, she is safe and it shows that being white and having a British passport helps. She is not African waiting to go to The Hague as a witness for the prosecution.

Strange, at time, Africa makes me think of people witnessing a drive by shooting while waiting at a bus stop.


UpdateIt has taken over one week for the Kenyan newspapers to inform of Clara Gutteridge’s deportation. According to the newspapers her deportation was due to safeguard national interest and to avoid any embarrassment to the government.



Kenya politic does not stop amusing me.  Now, it seems that Mr. Farah Maalim, the Deputy speaker of the National Assembly, is up in arms because only 30% of the public money goes to projects.  The rest, 70%, is stolen by “bureaucrats, politicians and contractors”.  At least the man is honest.

I guess I was wrong when I thought that 20% of any fund ended up in the pockets of the well-connected people.

Then he did not mention the useless contracts given as favors to the politically connected.

Question: Why is it that money stolen from government projects is never recovered?
However, when a man steals a chicken to feed his family the police frog march him to the station within a minute of the crime.

I am sure that it is only the tip of the iceberg, considering the government delegates some of the police academy responsibility or whatever to a public relations company.

Yes, police get training from a PR company to beef up their image. I wonder what would happen in NY if the local government would pull a stunt like that.

Kenyans are highly educated and I don’t understand why they cannot find, within the police ranks, suitable staff able to do that job.  Maybe, the PR Company is politically more connected that any junior educated police officer.  Could be the PR Company stole the gun to shoot the money bag.

Then some of the politicians summoned to present their case on alleged crime against humanity at the International Criminal Court are still in the government, or being showered with support and even one was coveted with a tribal title.

Strange they all have to present themselves at The Hague at the beginning of April and few stated that it has been difficult for them to acquire a Visa to the Netherlands.

Question: It seems that none of the accused has requested a visa to The Hague. Duh … Do you really think the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is lying?

Gosh the ICC and the chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo are so slow it hurts. In the meantime the ICC witnesses are threatened, bought off, in hiding or probably being exterminated by the extra-judicial killers.  

While away at The Hague the presidential contenders will hire a PR company to present their political platform back home. Yes, the mini Gadhafis in the making are running for the presidency in 2012.

Most politicians in the government are related. They have a cousin, niece, brother, mama, business partner, girl friend waiting for a contract, herbalist, same tribe, the lad promised a post, a niece, the son of the third wife.

Most probably that a “relative” will read the speech, send by special courier from The Hague, at political rallies. The PR Company will bring the cheerleaders, pompom girls, hired crowd, free t-shirts with the beer smile and a bag of flour.  It will be successful as per the press releases.

Let’s hope their home base supporters don’t go haywire when the cow dong hits the fan at The Hague.



Gadaffi and Kenya Vice President.

President Sarkozy of France has redeemed himself by putting into action his lip’s service.  He speared headed a no-fly zone over Libya with the help of Britain and the not so willing USA on tow. The military action has the approval of the UN and the Arab league.

Morality and oil are a bad mix but, for once, the members of the developed world cconcluded that morality and human dignity are more important.

They finally noticed that the world can do without Moammar Gaddafi and his family or anyone showing contempt to their population.

The African union is the only organization who spoke against the military action in Libya and that is for good reasons. 

Africa, saved South Sudan, has 53 countries of which 47 countries belong to the region called sub Sahara.

In sub Sahara 18 countries, 40% of that part of the world, are held by dictators or sons of these dictators and at least 50% by leaders fraudulently elected.

Governments,  in sub Sahara Africa, are very much a family affair. Large government concession and tenders are offered to company owned by relatives, tribesmen or at least cronies. Ambassadorial posts are often awarded to family members.

Everyone knows but the so-called free press cannot mention names due to the strong libel suits in these countries and the vocal members of human rights organizations, for uncovering corruptions, are often threaten, eventually abducted and killed.

In sub Sahara 90% of these leaders are clones, at various degrees, of Gaddafi. The country is theirs source of wealth and fame and they will do anything to hold on to it.

The Vice President of Kenya, Kalonzo Musyoka, is using public fund roaming the world to gather support from international organizations and head of states for a deferral of cases brought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on six suspects, in majority prominent politicians, for alleged crime against humanity.

The government, contrary to public opinion, wants these men to appear in front of a local tribunal instead of the ICC.

The Wikileaks US diplomatic reports termed Kenya as a swamp of corruption.

The attorney general, Amos Wako, who has a travel ban to the USA, has never prosecuted any case involving prominent politician during his 20 years tenure.

Amos Wako is a very rich man and so is the current Justice Minister, Mutula Kilonzo, who was a lawyer of former president Daniel Arap Moi.

The Kenyan government does not care about the people murdered, maimed or displaced in the midst of their politics. The important is to keep an international outlook conducive to further loot the public coffer and country’s resources. Any success in having the case deferred or taken to a local court would legitimize a slap on the face of the mass and create unprecedented impunity. It is for that reason that international actions like the one imposed on Libya are welcomed.  Kind of late but welcomed in the name of human dignity.

Pre-emptive actions action should be imposed on almost all African Union members. Well, many of their citizens do not agree and prefer a Gaddafi style aggressive approach. Like in Libya they are tired of living and dying at the service of these so-called leaders.

The French embassy in Nairobi must be inundated with messages of compliments. The French Cultural Center will have increase applications for their French language courses. The saviors may speak French.



Raila Amolo Odinga - World Economic Forum Annu...

Prime Minister Raila Odinga / Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr

Yesterday’s headline of a Kenyan newspaper read “My opponents are drunks, thieves – Raila”.  Today, another headline reads “Does Uhuru smokes bhang?” For the novice bhang is marijuana and Uhuru means freedom in Kiswhahili.

I did not buy the newspaper but in the latter case Uhuru must refer to one of the sons of Kenya first president Jomo Kenyatta.

His son Uhuru Kenyatta is a minister indicted by the International Criminal Court as a suspect for post-election crimes.

Raila Odinga is Kenya’s Prime Minister , a post conferred to him after the election chaos of 2007.

His opponent Mwai Kibaki, through votes rigging, was declared President and he selected a Vice-President and the members of his cabinet in less time than it takes to sneeze.

The election chaos turned the country into a mayhem which saw over 1300 deaths, innumerable internal displaced people and suffering.

A former Secretary General of the United Nations was called to diffuse the crisis, Mr. Odinga the presidential winner-com-declared-loser was sandwiched between the President and the Vice-President to the new post of Prime Minister.  The trio gave birth to a new style of African governance called coalition. 

The same type of Kenyan style government applied when Mad Bob Mugabe of Zimbabwe was unable to retain his parliamentary majority and formed a power sharing government with his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai.  

So, the Prime Minister of Kenya, inspecting-rallying-campaigning for 2012  at a bus station in a Kenyan town, stated that some of his political opponents are “drunkards, bhang smokers and thieves”.  While it is true that some of his opponents frequent the posh and not so posh watering holes of the country, are embroiled in alleged illicit drug trafficking and mind-boggling amount of misappropriation of government’s fund.

The Prime Minister words are reminiscent of Gaddafi’s to the anti-government demonstrators when he called them “drugged greasy rats” more or less under the influence of everything except fruit juice.

Kenya, bedrock of “freedom” of expression, until you look at the lining of the suit, has a Prime Minister who exercises his right with unpleasant preludes by mud slugging in the arena of the hot kitchen of Kenyan politic. The crowd cheers when he loudly voices what everyone thinks in their mind.  The opponents cry foul because he dared not to use metaphors to express himself.

In the meantime the government remains a swamp of corruption and is impotent in structuring the important issues needed to lift the mass out of the stagnation of their daily lives.

Kenya has an unemployment rate of 40%, the majority of the national airports have unpaved runways, and the electricity cost is prohibitive. The road infrastructure is mainly dirt roads and the paved ones are carpeted with such a thin layer of asphalt that they have more pot holes than craters on the moon. The currency is weakening but the economy for the few owning the majority of the wealth of the country has a real growth of at least 4%.

The real issues are sidestepped while the political elephants find a circus, an arena to voice their pseudo greatness.   The majority of the men and the few women in this political elites are very well-educated but isn’t Albert Einstein who said that “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school”, but in their case they have forgotten a great deal, they forgot what they were elected for.

In retrospective they are not elephants. They are parasites sucking the energy and the patience of the mass.



Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, atte...

Coalition pfft!

One hand does not catch a buffalo is an African proverb with the obvious meaning that there is no strength in isolated effort.
Presently there is a rumor that Kenya is spear heading a collective effort to have the African Union (AU) opt out of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Kenya vice-president is presently on a mission to visit South Africa, Uganda and Malawi and other ministers will visit Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria and Djibouti.
The visit is allegedly to support a procedure to motion the cogwheel in time for an AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the end of January 2011.

The ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, mentioned six suspects allegedly responsible for the atrocities perpetrated after the December 2007 presidential elections leading to the death of over 1,200 human lives, innumerable atrocities and internally displaced people.
The sordid affair resulted in a recipe of a coalition government where the president remained president, a vice president was appointed and a prime minister was added to make the dish palatable.
The recipe is so good that it was adopted in Zimbabwe and was even mentioned for Ivory Coast.

The majority of the suspects are prominent present and former politicians and one is the present Finance Minister.
In the government everyone is closely related by tribe, cronyism or kinship from the time Kenya became a country.
They steal and steal until the size of the loot provides an entry pass in the respectable bourgeoisie. Consequently, any external force threatening their pals is foreseen as a premonition of what could happen to them if caught by elements outside the African system.
They call it neocolonial justice to give it a sense of persecution coming from the West. Like if the West asked them to rig the election.

Kenya politicians had the possibility of trying the alleged suspects via a local tribunal but more than once they voted down the effort until ICC knocked at their door. Now fear from these broad tie suited soldiers makes them reconsider the option.
The consensus among the population is for the suspects to face The Hague taking into consideration an ineffective and corrupt judicial system.
All serious corruption cases start with inquiries, documentation, lots of noise, accusation and counter accusations. No one prominent person has ever been prosecuted and the cases are stamped “do not disturb” and sucked up into a black hole. That’s on and on and on the same well rehearsed scenario.

It will be a sad day for ICC, the world justice and the memory of the fallen souls if Kenya succeeds in its attempt at the African Union.



The Security control area at the entrance of t...
Entrance to the United Nations Detention Unit – The Hague

ICC has given the names of 6 suspects responsible for crimes committed in 2007/2008 during the result of the botch elections in Kenya. It resulted in a questionable power sharing between now President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

In this power sharing they bloated the government to satisfy the president whose party probably rigged the election and the loser who should have been president. They added a thingamabob vice-president with lots of doodad members of parliaments who are among the highest paid in the world. 

The atrocities according to Mr. Moreno-Ocampo,  International Criminal Court Prosecutor, resulted in more than 1,100 people being killed, 3,500 injured and more than 600,000 being displaced from their homes.
Of course, it is not accurate; the toll is most likely higher since getting proper statistic is almost impossible in that part of the world. I mean statistics for people killed during rioting when live bullets are used.
A foot note: some of the money allocated for relocating the internally displaced people vanished in the pockets of some government officials.
Isn’t nice the way governments representatives fulfill their duties on behalf of their citizens!

President Moi Kibaki’s reaction to Mr.Moreno-Ocampo news was ‘the people who have been mentioned have not yet been fully investigated as the pre-trial process in The Hague has only but began.
They, therefore, cannot be judged as guilty until the charges are confirmed by the court.
Calls for action to be taken against them are, therefore, prejudicial, preemptive and against the rules of natural justice.”

Very nice, it is very short, let me translate it: the mentioned suspects can go on in their functions like nothing ever happened and we will do our best not to send them to The Hague. 

Not strange, according to the corruption perception index Kenya is among the most corrupt country in the world and the most corrupt in East Africa.

WikiLeaks notes from the US embassy called Kenya a swamp of corruption where probably all the members of the government are corrupt. The government was so offended by the divulgation of this open secret that some members of parliament want to oust Mr. Michael Ranneberger the US ambassador to Kenya.

As far as I am concerned Ambassador Ranneberger has my vote of confidence. Also, don’t believe the hype on any other charges the Kenyan government wants to pin on him that’s hogwash. 

I have no idea if Mr. Moreno-Ocampo will succeed. What I know is that he will get only blah blah from the government but no help.

Already the Security Chiefs, stated that they will not help ICC in its probe.  In the meantime it is most likely that any known witnesses will be bought, hunted or lynched to the highest tree.

Watch the government fomenting strategies, meetings and press conferences to help their adversely named sextet.  Of course, to give credence to their issues they will give a good word for the one killed in vain
Of course a word, only a word and not much more.

The interesting fact is that president Kibaki is now in favor of a local tribunal to judge the culprits of the election chaos.  Yes, it is interesting knowing that not one prominent person mentioned in any of all the corruption cases has ever been indicted. The judicial system is only a name on a big board outside a nice building. You may as well call it the Judicial banking system.

Oops! Let me remind you again that Kenya is one of the most corrupt countries of our entire planet.

Actually, a local tribunal is a good idea that will definitely suit the politicians since everyone will go scot-free.


THE INTERNATIONAL JURIST “The Bemba Trial: Ersatz Justice?”

I am grateful to The International Jurist  and in particular Xavier Rauscher who accepted my request to reproduce a post written by Melanie Gouby about Jean-Pierre Bamba Gomba, former vice-president of the DRC, presently on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on three counts of war crimes and two count of crimes against humanity.  The reading is fascinating.

 The Bemba Trial: Ersatz Justice?

This is a guest post by my good friend and journalist Mélanie Gouby, who is currently in the Kivus, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Being aware of her views on the Bemba Trial, I asked her if she would be willing to write a guest post for The International Jurist to share them and perhaps begin a discussion on the latest ICC trial. She readily accepted, and made time in what I know to be a very busy schedule to write the post in the briefest delays, for which I am very grateful.

You can read more of Mélanie Gouby’s work on her blog, Going with the Wind (Facebook page here), recently nominated in the Best New Blog category for the 2010 Aid Blog Awards. You can also follow her on Twitter @Melaniegouby. 

The scales of the atrocities committed in central Africa over the last two decades is unmatched by any other conflict since World War Two, if only in the number of deaths. The Democratic Republic of Congo in particular has seen millions of people being massacred, raped, maimed, dying of diseases in insalubrious refugees camps and losing everything that made them human beings. Congo is an ongoing genocide. The reasons to the never-ending violence, devastating in a country already striped to the bones, are numerous. From the conveniently illegal mineral trade to the political factions trying to get their share of power, there is not one solution to end it. But there is one demand that unite all Congolese people: Justice.

Reporting from and about DRC for the last two years, my initial illusions about what kind of fruits the work of the ICC would bear in this part of the world have been largely reduced to zero. Given the international community’s responsibility in this conflict and its scale, Congolese people would have been right to expect something of the scale of the ICTR, as well as help for stabilization and reconstruction going far beyond the 20 000 MONUC troops and the disparate aid.

But here we are, in 2010, still waiting for those big trials. Most media will have by now glossed over the importance of the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, but few will have actually asked what the people on the ground in the CAR and the DRC actually think of it. What kind of impact will it have in reality on their life and will it help them to heal those most deep wounds?

Bemba’s troops, from his Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC), have committed atrocious crimes in DRC, in particular in the Ituri region over periods of several years. A Congolese colleague told me stories of cannibalism on pygmies in the Ituri forest and gender based crimes too gruesome for me to recall here. These stories however are not just rumours, they are well established facts here in Eastern DRC and are not without witnesses. But what is Bemba tried for? Command responsibility for (alleged) war crimes committed by his troops in the Central African Republic. Moreover the prosecution has already recognized that Bemba was neither there, nor directly responsible. Meanwhile justice for victims in the DRC will remain elusive.

Now of course, Justice should also be rendered to victims of the MLC in the CAR. Ironically, many of them do not think it is Bemba who should be in the dock, but rather Ange-Felix Patassé, the then-president of the Central African Republic. In 2002, Patassé requested from Jean-Pierre Bemba that he sends his troops to Bangui in order to counter an attempted coup by Francois Bozizé, a former minister in his government turned rebel. Although it is indeed the MLC who would have committed the alleged war crimes, victims in the CAR themselves are calling for Ange-Felix Patassé to be prosecuted and often dismiss the Bemba trial as ineffective for peace in their country. Bemba was back home, a several thousands of kilometres away, unconcerned by the political struggle at the origin of the fight. According to victims, Patassé is the most responsible, and according to civil society members I talked with on several accounts, Bozizé is not far behind, but people are too afraid to talk since he is in power. Patassé and Bozizé are both running for president in the forthcoming election in CAR, an insult to the hundreds of victims who lament that a foreigner who was not even on the Central African soil is the only one indicted while their corrupted and aging leaders are still having their cake and eating it.

This trial is also an insult to the victims in the DRC. Bemba’s Banyamulengue have committed atrocious crimes in the East and the complete absence of charges for those crimes is a slap in the face of everyone affected by the MLC exactions. Not to mention that it seems rather obvious that those crimes would be easier to impart to Bemba, in comparison to the crimes committed in the CAR. Bemba was there and directly in control of his troops. Would looking too deep into those events bring to light the responsibility of people a little too influential?

I asked Luis Moreno-Ocampo in July why he did not prosecute Jean-Pierre Bemba on crimes committed in DRC and he gave me this evasive answer: “The Central African Republic referred the case and we found that these were the greatest crimes committed in the CAR, which is why we charged him there. Also we cannot investigate before 2002 and some allegations against Bemba in DRC are from before 2002 so I’ve got no jurisdiction.” Given that all trials at the ICC so far have principally used witness testimonies as main evidence, it seems odd that the prosecution did not find enough ”evidences” to prosecute him on those allegations from after 2002.

As to CAR, Fatou Bensouda, the deputy prosecutor declared that Ange-Felix Patassé “is a co-perpetrator” of Bemba. So why on earth is he allowed to quietly come back to Bangui and run for president?

I arrived in the DRC in November, just in time to watch the opening of the trial on a TV set in Goma. The intermittent power cuts made it just that much more difficult to follow, but reaction to the defence opening statement were unanimous. “Bemba should have been tried for crimes here in the DRC, not in the CAR, but this is all political anyway”. People here want justice, they are hungry for it. At a local level first, but they also look up to the ICC. They still hope that someday, the people who are really the most responsible and are keeping their wonderful country in a constant state of disarray will be prosecuted.  Not a Lubanga or a Katanga, “petits poissons” as the Congolese like to say, swimming in a vast sea populated by real sharks.

Arresting a popular figure like Bemba (let’s remember here that he was the main contender against Joseph Kabila in the 2006 presidential elections and keeps a high level of popularity in Western DRC) is useless if it does not concern DRC and is not balanced by the trial of his opponents, equally guilty of war crimes. The message sent here to CAR and DRC populations and leaders is that impunity is in fact still a reality if you have enough power, that Bemba was arrested because he lost the elections and subsequently was an embarrassment for Kabila as well as an easy scapegoat for CAR politicians. Whether this is the reality, or not, does not matter. What matter is what the people who are supposed to feel relief from these trials actually think is true.  Peace without justice is not an option, but what the ICC has given Central Africans is ersatz justice without a perspective for peace, because the same people remain in power, the same balance of interests remain unchallenged, and the same people remain voiceless and helpless.