The visit to by the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is winding down. So far here are the key highlights
- A plea for evidence– the prosecutor, in a her press statement mentioned the countless requests for cooperation sent to African countries and to which the relevant governments have successfully complied. So it speaks volumes that she had to come personally to speak to the Kenya government, much like her predecessor Ocampo. Clearly the relationship of cooperation between the court and the Kenya government is still touch-and-go. I’ll post later on the type of evidence the Office of the Prosecutor generally seeks and whether the cooperation structure under the Rome Statute is sufficient.
- A visit to some of the hotspots– the Prosecutor was keen to highlight her visit to IDPs and Victims of violence. This is important to for victims seeking justice to put a human face to the Hague process. Equally, the prosecutor will have the human faces of the countless victims fixed in her mind when she (or a member of her office) goes to make the opening statement in April next year. But the visit is more than meeting with people. By visiting places like Kiambaa church, the prosecutor and her team will get a sense of scale, distance and context in connection to the cases. Its one thing to see a place on a map, but to actually see the roads, shopping centres, abandoned houses, re-construction, disputed lands and farms and to speak to those who actually live in the area will doubtless assist both Prosecution and Defence in preparation for the trial.
- Witness protection– her office has been vocal about attempts to interfere with witnesses, so a briefing from the director of the Witness Protection Agency will be interesting. Although her predecessor mentioned that the ICC had already re-located and put in place protective measures for potential witnesses, the WPA is still important. Don’t forget that the two trials are only the accused that the Prosecutor is pursuing so far. What if fresh evidence implicating other or different suspects arises for the same situation? The prosecutor would have to go through further procedure to get new cases admitted to court; in the meantime, any potential witnesses might still need the WPA until the ICC’s VWU is able to act.