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Top international lawyers question ICC's focus on Africa

Three British lawyers specializing in international law spoke to the Monitor about prosecutions of Kenyans linked to the 2007-08 ethnic clashes that killed more than 1,300.

By Correspondent / October 26, 2010

Nairobi, Kenya

Courtenay Griffiths, Desmond de Silva, and Paul Mylvaganam, three British lawyers specializing in international law, spoke to the Monitor in Nairobi about prosecutions linked to Kenya’s post-election violence, which killed 1,300 after disputed polls in 2007.

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Mr. Griffiths, who is defending Former Liberian President Charles Taylor against charges of war crimes, also shared his criticism of the International Criminal Court's focus on Africa.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

CSM – You are aware that there are no domestic proceedings ongoing to prosecute those responsible for the clashes. There is only the ICC case at The Hague. What are your thoughts on that?

COURTENAY GRIFFITHS – It would be interesting to have a meaningful debate here in Kenya as to the appropriateness of any trial taking place in the ICC as opposed to taking place here in theatre. I don’t think all the possible options were properly debated here. It seemed to be a straight choice between Kenyan courts or the ICC. There seems to have been very little debate about the model of a hybrid court in theatre, under the United Nations.

If it’s a question of [Kenyans] questioning the integrity of their own judiciary to withstand political pushing, why not set up a hybrid court like the Special Court for Sierra Leone, drafting in foreign lawyers, do it under the direction of the UN.

STORY: Kenya missing its chance for justice, say top international lawyers

In simple terms, the events took place here in Kenya, the victims are here in Kenya, the lessons to be learned should be learned by Kenyans. Justice should not just be done, they should be in a position of seeing it being done.

CSM – How would we now look at establishing such a hybrid court here in Kenya, and isn’t it too late, now that the ICC has begun investigations?

DESMOND DE SILVA – It would be up to the Kenyan government to make an approach to the Secretary General of the United Nations, ultimately these courts only truly have proper credence if they are UN-backed. There is no reason why the Secretary General shouldn’t agree.


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