The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands has asked its judges to authorize an investigation into post-election violence in Kenya between December, 2007 and February, 2008.
The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, made his announcement at a press conference in The Hague. "I have asked the judges of the International Criminal Court authorization on the violence that followed the elections in 2007 in Kenya," he said.
Moreno-Ocampo cited Kenyan authorities as saying that more than 1,200 people were killed, hundreds were raped and thousands were displaced from their homes during the bloodshed following the disputed vote. But he said thousands of other cases may have gone unreported. "These alleged crimes were part of a widespread systematic attack against the Kenyan civilian population. This constitutes crimes against humanity as murder, rape and sexual attacks, forced displacement and the inhuman acts," he said.
So far, critics say, few of those responsible for the violence have been prosecuted. Human rights activists have supported the kind of investigation Moreno-Ocampo has requested, since they say they have little faith that the Kenyan government will go after some of those they hold responsible -- who allegedly include high-level officials.
In July, former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan sent Moreno-Ocampo information on suspected ringleaders named in an independent commission. The prosecutor says he is not constrained by those findings. He also says his investigation will be an opportunity to rebuild Kenya on solid foundations and prevent election violence in the future.