Researched and written by Robert Asketill
On June 16, 2012, Luis Moreno-Ocampo will be replaced by Fatou Bensouda, a former Gambian justice minister who has been his deputy at the ICC since 2004. She will be perfect, he says. (She will certainly enjoy warmer relations with the African Union.) In the meantime, he likes to talk about changing paradigms. He even invokes the struggle against slavery as an analogy for what he thinks he’s doing, and if you suspend cynicism for a moment, you can see why. “I saw the change of the world,” he says. “I started this job when the Iraq war started – one model, go to war – and I ended with Libya. Justice was a part of it; a completely different scenario, and that’s the future for me.”
Most connect Moreno-Ocampo with the trial and case last month of the ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor who became the first former African Head of State convicted under international law. He will be sentenced later this year by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, including arms trafficking in return for “blood diamonds”.
From what we have learnt, Moreno-Ocampo had little to do with the bringing to justice of Charles Taylor. It was David Crane, an American law professor and former international prosecutor who masterminded Taylor’s arrest. Crane, who has been critical of the slowness of the ICC, said he wanted to prove “with a stroke of my pen” that the most powerful warlord in Africa could be removed from power and within six weeks of making this boast had achieved the removal of Taylor from power. Quite an achievement when one remembers that the USA itself fails to recognise the ICC.
As for Moreno-Ocampo, he has secured just one conviction. For some who hoped the ICC would be the triumphant expression of a universal yearning for justice, his tenure has been a grievous disappointment. Others say he has made the court real and relevant when it could have been little more than a talking shop, but there is no hiding from the criticisms that have been made by former staff and fellow jurists of his style, his strategy and even his personal life.