I’ve posted an extensive legal comment on the Invisible Blog on last week’s decision at the ICC to allow the commencement of a formal investigation in Kenya. But important in these matters is also the question of communication and how the Court is perceived by various communities who have an interest in the functioning of the Court. As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t believe that the Court focusing on Africa is a sign of its neo-colonialist nature. But the fact remains that perceptions, whether right or wrong, are fundamental, especially for an institution that relies so heavily on governmental and non-governmental cooperation for its daily operation.
In this context, it is interesting to look at the press conference held by the Prosecutor the day after the decision. Mr. Ocampo has once again shown his capacity to express himself in a clear and synthetic way, with strong Orwellian statements aimed at striking our hearts and minds. Here’s one example:
The judges decided. There will be justice in Kenya. To contribute to the prevention of crimes during the next election we must proceed promptly. We will. There is a list of 20 suspects, but it is not binding. We envision at least two cases against one to three persons in each case. We will focus on those most responsible according to the evidence that will be impartially collected. We aim to finalize the bulk of the investigation during 2010. We will present our case before the Judges. They will decide. This is a judicial process.
On the content, there is nothing “decided” yet, the judges just allowed the commencement of a formal investigation. There have been no indictments, no arrest warrants or confirmation of charges and I would be surprised if anything notable happened in the next 18 months before the next election.
But for the purposes of this post, I’d like to focus on the form. It just seems incomprehensible that the Prosecutor of an international Court express himself in such a telegraphic fashion. Mr. Ocampo also appears in a video produced by the Hauser center where he reproduces exactly the same way of conveying ideas. And the example I give earlier does not show that he actually repeats some of sentences throughout the statement, to increase their impact…
I don’t know why he believes he should express himself like this. The statement seems to be perfectly tailored for an audience that seems to be perceived as incapable of comprehending sentences longer that 5 words (Human Rights activists and Africans?…). I’m a little reluctant to attribute such thoughts to Prosecutor Ocampo, but one can’t help feeling patronized when being spoken to like a child. And if it’s not based on what he perceives to be what people want to hear, I don’t really see any other explanation for such absence of effort in drafting a statement. Ok. We get it. Justice good. Criminals bad.