Otunnu, Ugandan Politician, Derides ICC Prosecutor Ocampo's Slant On Uganda Crimes
On Ocampo: "And he cannot answer satisfactorily why in the case of Uganda all the investigation; all those indicted; have been on the LRA and nothing has touched the Ugandan government."
Editor's Note: The East African country of Uganda is hosting, from May 31 to June 11, what's known as "The Review Conference of the International Criminal Court Statute," which organizers say is intended to "take stock of the state of international justice and consider amendments to the ICC founding treaty, the Rome Statute, and to strengthen it."
Additionally, the conference is to "review the list of crimes within ICC jurisdiction, and potentially add drug trafficking and terrorism." There's nothing wrong with the Conference--except the venue for the meeting. It's almost as if Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, was to invite a Mafia don, to host a conference to review techniques of combating global crime syndicates. By allowing the Ugandan regime of Gen. Yoweri Museveni to host the conference, the ICC may have as well permitted the Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to host it in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.
In 2005, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Uganda liable for what amounted to war crimes in the DRC committed during Uganda's occupation of Eastern Congo. There were massacres; mass rapes of women and men; and massive looting of Congo's resources by Ugandan forces and militias allied and trained by Uganda. The ICJ awarded $10 billion in damages to the Congo.
On June 8, 2006, in a front page story about the Lord's Resistance Army's atrocities in Uganda and the ICC, the Wall Street aJournal also reported that the ICC had launched an investigation of the alleged war crimes by Uganda's army --whose commander in chief is Gen. Museveni-- in the Congo. Since then, the ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has been doing everything in his power to try to dilute the Ugandan ruler's culpability in the Congo crimes. It's almost as if Gen. Museveni has compromising evidence being used to blackmail Ocampo himself. Ocampo's actions continues to erode the ICC's credibility. In fact, The Wall Street Journal article also pointed out how appalled his own colleagues at the ICC were with his cozy display towards Gen. Museveni.
Certainly, Gen. Museveni himself is aware of his culpability--he urged then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to block the ICC's investigation; Annan told him he had no such powers, according to The Journal's article.
Why a morally and professionally compromised prosecutor like Ocampo is not forced to resign is a mystery.
The latest Ocampo debacle, hosting the review conference in Uganda, is but the latest in a series of revolting displays by the ICC Prosecutor. Below, The Black Star News publishes an interview conducted with Olara Otunnu, the prominent Ugandan diplomat, former United Nations Under Secretary General, and now leader of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) opposition
party while he was in New York City--Otunnu was critical of the cozy relations between Ocampo and the Ugandan regime.
Ocampo did not respond to a request for reaction to Otunnu's comments, sent to the ICC's media department. Otunnu’s remarks focused on why the ICC addressed only the alleged crimes committed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Uganda, and ignored those of the government soldiers. (On July 8 and September 27, 2005, the ICC issued arrest warrants against Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, and his top commanders, some of whom have since died).
Otunnu's comments with respect to the ICC relations with Gen. Museveni was part of a lengthier interview earlier dealing with political and military developments in Uganda and the Great Lakes region.
Otunnu: "What is very sad is the way in which Mr. Ocampo has been drawn in all this. It is Mr. Museveni who summoned Mr. Ocampo and said 'Come, come, come here. I've got a job for you to do here. Go and investigate what is happening in northern Uganda. I will help you. But make sure you only point in that direction. Don't look in my direction.'
And Mr. Ocampo complied. I mean this is public knowledge. Mr. Museveni summoned him. They had a press conference.
Mr. Museveni has boasted how he brought him in, how he told him what to do and how he won't allow him to anything else. The ICC is supposed to be a completely independent institution and I think it risks its reputation, it risks the very foundation
of that institution, if it begins to play politics with its mandate."
I think the conduct of the Ugandan case raises a lot of questions. And the relationship between Mr. Ocampo and Mr. Museveni is very unfortunate and the manner in which Mr. Ocampo started the investigation, confined the terms of the investigation, and essentially aligned himself with Mr. Museveni is very, very sad and I think, will not augur well for the future of the the ICC."
I speak as one who worked very hard for the ICC. I was one of the very, very first to advocate when it wasn't popular. And my delegation in the UN in the early 80s was one of the very first to stick out our neck. It was not popular at that time; in the middle of the Cold War. So, I have been engaged in this from before it was established; and then was involved in the negotiations. And I'm very sad to see the direction in which the court has been turned. And certainly how the Ugandan case has been handled. The court is supposed to operate in a completely politically blind fashion."
It should follow evidence wherever the evidence leads. To whichever door the evidence leads. Regardless of the political affiliation of the persons involved. Regardless whether they are the most powerful or the most friendless. Investigation should follow the evidence. This has not been the case in Uganda. I have spoken with Mr. Ocampo myself directly."
And he cannot answer satisfactorily why in the case of Uganda all the investigation; all those indicted; have been on the LRA and nothing has touched the Ugandan government. In fact how, why in the very process of the investigation, there is a kind of symbiotic relationship, in the very process of gathering information, between the prosecutor's office and the Museveni government."
I believe sadly, that the Ugandan case could turn out to be the Achilles heel of the International Criminal Court--unless a major corrective measure is taken. It's had a very false and radically unfortunate start."
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