The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has praised the United States’ efforts in helping the court ensure that perpetrators of war crimes are brought to justice.
Fatou Bensouda says the arrest warrants issued against leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels still hold even though the Ugandan army has suspended its hunt for war crimes suspect Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Bensouda’s comments came after the United States offered up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Kony and three other African war crimes suspects.
“With the reward program we would be able to receive information, we are able to develop intelligence from there and maybe this will facilitate the arrest of the individuals that are sought by the court. So, for us this is significant,” Bensouda said.
ICC and Africa relations
In an interview with VOA, Bensouda denied allegations that the ICC only targets Africa. Some critics have noted that over the past decade the court has opened eight investigations, all of them in Africa, with more than two dozen indictees.
She says there is good working relationship between the ICC and African countries, in spite of perceptions that African countries are not cooperating with the court.
“We have seen that Africa is actually coming toward and engaging the ICC like no other region is doing currently. For all the cases that you now have before the International Criminal Court, in fact 90 percent of them were at the initiative of the African states themselves requesting the International Criminal Court’s intervention,” said Bensouda.
“We are intervening in these situations because the crimes are being committed there," she added. "The crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC are being committed. We had promised ourselves when the [ICC] was established that there would no longer be impunity for these crimes, and this is exactly what the International Criminal Court is doing.”
She commended African governments for demonstrating that they do not want impunity in their countries.
“If we are thinking about the victims of these crimes, the victims of these atrocities who are also vulnerable African victims, then we would not think about targeting Africans. We will be thinking about, working for and supporting the victims of these crimes,” said Bensouda.
ICC and Kenya
Some regional analysts say the election of Kenya’s President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his vice president, William Ruto will complicate matters for the ICC.
The ICC plans to move ahead with the charges of crimes against humanity against both Kenyatta and Ruto.
The court accuses the two leaders of playing a role in Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence, which left about 1,300 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.
“Electing them into these positions is not going to make the case go away,” said Bensouda.
“What we are doing at the ICC is a judicial process, which we will follow, which will continue,” Bensouda said. “But what Kenya as a population decides to do in their elections this has nothing to do with ICC and the way we evaluate the evidence and the way the judges will eventually decide the cases.”
Some people who monitor the court say it could make special arrangements for the Kenyan leaders to allow the use of a video link during the trial instead of requiring them to be physically present during court proceedings.
“That application has been made and is still under consideration by the judges. But the position we have taken is that the statute does not envisage trial by video link,” said Bensouda.
Clottey interview with Fatou Bensouda, ICC prosecutor