ICC to Investigate Kenya Election Violence. Will Leaders Cooperate?

Article excerpt

The International Criminal Court has told Luis Moreno Ocampo to investigate the role of senior politicians in 2008 Kenya election violence. But some are already suspected of working to undermine the ICC.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, has given its prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo the green light to investigate the role of senior politicians in Kenya's post-election violence that killed 1,300 Kenyans in 2008.

The decision allows Mr. Ocampo to take the next step, which would be passing down indictments against senior Kenyan politicians, some of whom are thought to be ministers and cabinet members in the powersharing government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The presidential and parliamentary elections of Dec. 27, 2007 - considered by international observers to be deeply flawed - were followed by communal violence that also displaced nearly 300,000 Kenyans from their homes.

"The ICC ruling today will give Ocampo the green light to continue his investigations, and it signifies that Ocampo has substantial evidence to bring charges against Kenyan politicians," says Wafula Okumu, a Kenya expert at the Institute for Security Studies in Tshwane (as Pretoria is now called).

While neither the ICC nor the prosecutor, Ocampo, have released names yet, a previous investigation of the post-election violence - carried out in Nairobi by Kenyan magistrate Philip Waki - laid the groundwork for the ICC's investigation.

Kenya refused to investigate violence

Kenyan parliamentarians refused to set up their own special tribunal to take up the investigation of organized violence, which prompted the ICC's Ocampo to pick up the investigation from The Hague. Numerous eyewitnesses to the violence have come forward, some of them receiving death threats, and the United States government has given guarantees of protection to any Kenyan witness who agrees to testify before the ICC court.

Initially, the violent reaction to the December 2007 election results - Mr. …