Prosecutorial (In)discretion? Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon

The well-worn academic debates about accountability vs. peace moved into prime time this week as allegations by international bodies raised the prospect of heightened political conflict on three continents.

The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, this week released the list of six Kenyan politicians he wants to charge with responsibility for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007. The list was issued in the form of a request from the prosecutor to the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber at the ICC to issue summonses for the appearance of six Kenyan politicians at the ICC in The Hague. The move is the latest in a series of increasingly controversial prosecutions by Ocampo, so much so the BBC felt moved to ask, Is the world and better place for the presence of the ICC?. For a more in depth treatment of the ICC in Africa have a look at Professor Makau Mutua’s briefing paper for the Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre (Noref).

The Council of Europe this week called for investigations to be launched after it received a report this week naming Kosovo’s recently elected Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci in connection with trafficking in human organs during his time as political head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The report, resulting from a two-year investigation by the special rapporteur of the Council, raises again allegations of organ-trafficking by the KLA that were first published in 2008 by the then prosecutor of the International War Crimes Tribunal (ICTY) in The Hague and which have been fiercely denied by Thaci and his goverment.

Meanwhile, Lebanon girded itself for an announcement of indictments by Daniel Bellemare, the prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in The Hague. A report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has raised questions about the conduct of the investigation and those indictments – expected before the end of 2010 – are widely rumored to target senior Hezbollah figures, raising the very real potential for violence in the country. Writing from the United Nations in New York, experienced Middle East correspondent Graham Usher summarized for Al-Ahram Weekly the high-stakes regional and global brinkmanship surround the impending indictments.

Watch this space for more on the interplay of politics and law in all three cases, including local coverage from Kenya and Lebanon as these cases play out in the coming weeks and months.

Photo: U.S. State Dept via flikr