tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera December 5, 2015 2:30pm-3:01pm EST
greatest. there ithe colombian government will continue it's investigative process of explore. >> more of everything we're covering right here, www.aljazeera.com. >> this week on talk to al jazeera - the first prosecutor of the international criminal court luis moreno-ocampo. >> massive atrocitiies are not commited by evil persons. they are committed by people who say "they are protecting their own communities". >> under his direction, the first permanent international legal body sought justice for some of the most serious atrocities of this century. the icc presented charges against world leaders and others for crimes against humanity.
>> we are breaking the cycle of impunity. >> the court however is not without its critics, including those who allege it has an anti-african bias. >> most of the massive atrocities are committed in the, in the arab countries or in african countries. >> the united states has not signed up to participate in icc and the argentine lawyer says there is a reason for that. >> they are against independent justice. >> the court is here to stay however, but the icc's permanence was not always a guarantee. >> six, empty floors. . . >> (laughter) . . . two employees. everyone's thinking it would be closed. >> during argentina's transition to democracy, moreno-ocampo served as the deputy prosecutor against members of the military government who had ruled the country. >> i never could convince my mother of what happened in my country. but then when the trial start and my mother start to listen to witness. she call me and say, "i still love general videla. but you are right. he has to go to jail." >> i spoke to luis moreno-ocampo in new york, where he is now in private practice.
he had just returned from iraq where he was doing bro-bono work investigating crimes committed by isil against the country's yazidi minority. you've just recently returned from iraq. the yazidis have, have appealed to the icc. they wanted the icc to do something about the genocide that they say that is happening to them because of isil. what can the icc do? >> that for me interesting, no? because, if you are a victim of, this type of crimes, you are in iraq. but isis who have no, no one can control them, is attacking you. where you go? iraq cannot do it. so who else will protect you? so people keep moving, asking icc to intervene. and the problem was, iraq is not a state party. so the territory's not under the jurisdiction of international criminal court. because what they had to prove to open a case at the icc is that member of isis are
nationals from third parties. and then, we collect, they collect the information showing that they're 2,000 tunisians, 1,500 jordanians, and more than 2,000 europeans leading isil. so now they, the yazidis, n.g.o.s and the (unintel) government two weeks ago, they went to the hague and they present a communication to the prosecutor asking her to start to work in the genocide case. >> and do you think the yazidis will get some sort of justice? >> yes, i think that's a big first step. there - we can help more. for instance, iraq, iraq does not like to be a member icc because there are still many conflict there and they're afraid. but iraq can make a decision very limited. iraq baghdad can decide just go accept jurisdiction for sinjar mountains. just since august 2014. so that meaning
just the area where the genocide was committed. and that will allow icc to intervene by different way. >> sometimes is it just a matter of there being the political will to do it? >> totally. not just sometime, sometimes. >> always. >> all the time. all the time. political will is now the next phase. because when, in 1945, oh, oh, look. when the armenian were slaughter, even the word genocide didn't exist. when the germans killed everyone during the second world war, there was no law. the, the genocide convention was adopted in 1948. and , we need another 50 years to have a court implementing it. now the next step is, okay, we have a law, court decision. but because there is no global police, we need to invent a different way to participate in this. and that's the next phase. >> just a couple years ago, about syria, this is what you said, "the global community is divided on the solution to the problem. >> there may be an efficient and collective solution.
those in syria who ordered the crimes should be prosecuted. the international criminal court is ready to provide the independent judiciary required. it could be effective. and, and look at all that has happened just in the two years since you said that. is there a role that the international court has in what is happening in syria? >> but the syria is a good example of what you say before. political agreement is, is a condition. and, in fact, yes, russia veto a resolution on syria. but before that, u. s. was not interested at all to, to, to send the case to the icc they did it just at the end to shame russia, but not at the beginning. us was proposing, you remember, striking because of chemical weapons. and that will be a wrong, also, policy. because it's not about just killing people with chemical weapon. (laugh) you cannot kill people. so, yes, we lost opportunities. but that, that why i believe yazidis'' genocide case is a good chance to unite
the world. >> but are there war crimes that are happening in syria that need to be addressed? of course. yes. how to do it is a different matter. because, you're focusing now, the problem is even petraeus is proposing to support al qaeda to fight isil now. it's, it's insane. if you focus on, in the genocide committed against yazidis by isis, then you can stop isis and then you can find a political solution and a justice solution for the previous crimes. so justice is not just putting people in the dark. so we can have other measures. but yes, we need to develop new approach to these problems. >> the us specifically who is not, is not part of the, the icc, how, how much of a challenge, of, is that? or is not a challenge? or what does that say about the us ? >> we won the challenge. we won the challenge. when i request indictment against president bashir, my biggest supporter was president bush.
he say, "okay, i don't like the court for much but president bashir had to be accountable. " so president bashir ended his term, hundred percent support in the court. even moving china. then president obama came, start a sea change. and then china remain quiet because that its strategy. china, china's very clear. it's not against justice. china believe stability protect people. >> well, the us would say that they're not against justice, either. they are against independent justice. >> that's the problem. us like justice when, when security council or us decide where to go. they don't like independent procedure to deciding to open investigation without their consent. >> do you think it'll change? >> with time, i hope before everyone is killed in this country, in this world. (laugh) yeah, i hope will change. yeah. but depend on us. depend on people. it's changing. it's changing. the funny thing, when you see surveys about icc, there's global support. even in china. so everywhere. but the political leader
have to adjust. the problem is, u. s. is the biggest country in the world. they don't like some, something checking them. (laughter) that's it. >> this awful thing that has happened in kunduz with the hospital, the doctors without borders hospital being bombed. is that a war crime? >> look, i believe that will depend on the facts. the case is showing how wrong is the policy. it's not our, it's not that this is illegal. it's wrong. bombing people is wrong. you're not gaining them. this conflict with talibans or al qaeda or, or isis are not about, two countries fighting. it's about ideas. look what's happened after all those ca, people from the us. from london are going to join isis to fight because they leave their cause. so you, so, you, you cannot kill all of them. so you have to respect them. that why it's a difference. the law makes your enemy a criminal. because in the us, which is the biggest country in the world,
international relation's about us interest. and they see the other foreigners enemies. president obama is saying inside the us we're just spying foreigners. i never for, people here say, oh, it's fine. fine. foreigners, no problem. come on, we're foreigners. i'm a foreigner. (laugh) so don't, don't spy me. so there are 6.5 billion foreigners, in fact. majority of the world are foreigners for us. so they should think differently. >> the us is obviously not part of the icc but are there actions that the u. s. can be still held accountable for? whether it's the torture report, things that have happened in guantanamo. is there anything that you see that the u. s. should be held accountable for? >> no, i see wha, i would sugge, president obama decide not to investigate tortures. so the only institution who can review that decision is icc for event, alleged crimes committed in afghanistan. the rest is, the rest i would say no. what happened in iraq or what
happened in guantanamo, it's just us. no one else has jurisdiction. >> so there's no follow up to that. >> for that, no, there are no, there are no institution for that. the only possible case is what happened afghanistan. and eventually, (clears throat) there are some agreements in poland, in some country who accepted to torture people. >> that is also, and poland and these countries are members of icc that's why we are still in a wrong, okay, that was a wrong poi, if, not, not, not just wrong. a legal poli, illegal policy. >> using drones has increased markedly under president obama. often killing innocent people. >> okay, legally, again, the only possibilities what's happened afghanistan. the only country where icc would have jurisdiction. but there would be some legal debates. but i think the important debate is, >> in pakistan. no place else at all? >> pakistan is not a party. no. but the important debate for me not just what happened investigating crime.
it's changing the the policy. and that debate should be here in the us. no, with the american people. >> so that would take americans saying, >> yes, the american have to, look, at the beginning of the 20th century, theodore roosevelt received the nobel prize, the peace nobel prize because he was mitigating the conflict between, japan and, and russia. and his, his speech, he say, "the only way to establish peace in the world is to create a confederation of states. "with independent court helping the world to stay in peace as the supreme court in the us help us, help the states to be in peace. so see, roosevelt was posing that at the beginning, at the beginning of the 20th century. but now we're talking about it differently. a hundred year after roosevelt when president obama receive nobel prize, he was not talking about the confederation more. (laugh) he was talking about he's the commander in chief of one, of one country. and that different game. so i think we have to go back to theodore roosevelt, theodore roosevelt language.
i think that, he, he saw it. the president in those days, u. s. was not still the biggest power in the world. now it's tempting because us the hegemony (unintel phrase) power. and the temptation is to impose their will everywhere. but that is not working. would not work. >> still ahead on the program moreno ocampo talks about palestinian statehood and acusations that the court focuses too much on africa. >> we're here to fully get into the nuances of everything that's going on, not just in this country, but around the world. >> what, as if there were no cameras here, would be the best solution? >> this goes to the heart of the argument. >> to tell you the stories that others won't cover. how big do you see this getting? getting the news from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform... >> we're here to provide the analysis... the context... and the reporting that allows you to make sense of your world. >> ali velshi on target.
>> you're watching talk to al jazeera. i'm richelle carey. my guest this week is the first prosecutor of the international criminal court, luis mareno ocampo. >> do you support palestinian statehood? >> oh, i, i was a prosecutor in, in a case where palestine came to my office requesting jurisdiction. and, was very interesting because the minister of jus, was in 2009. and the minister of justice of palestine explained to me. look, it was so difficult to come here. first, i had to convince the palestinian authorities. then they told me, okay. but you can go to the icc if arab league support you. so he told me, it was so difficult to discuss with bashir on the table the age of palestine at the arab league. but they did it. they accept it. so i'm here after all this complicated process. i told him, "okay. minister, i understand how much you work it. but however, i cannot
promise you success. i can promise you impartiality and respect for the law. and talking about the law, there's a problem here because the law say a state can accept jurisdiction. and it's not clear that you're a state. still believe that i have no authority to decide you're a state. you should go to the general assembly. they did it after i left. and general assembly voted they're a state. not member of the u. n. but a state. and as a consequence now, they are member of icc. so this was moving in five years. how much it could solve the issue, i don't know. >> what do you think it means that the icc has jurisdiction now? >> for the future, everyone knows that if you commit crimes there, you can be investigated and prosecuted by the iccthat make a different game. and, and for me, you should not construct the membership of icc as attacking, as an aggression against israel. it's, it's a commitment of the palestinian people not to commit crimes.
but we need, we need to take the opportunity. israel, as a consequence of that, is conducting much more investigation and, and is much more careful. that's a good sign. but we need to do it both sides. >> why the need for the international criminal court, as you see it? >> no, because that's the first time it's, nuremberg permanent. nuremberg, yugoslavia, (unintel phrase) for the past. icc for the future and permanent. it completely different game. and you don't, until icc, until nuremberg, international relation were relation between states. inside a state, a sovereign could kill whoever he wanted. and, and now this change it. started to change with nuremberg but now it's a hu, it's a sea change because icc is now joined by 123 states. so and the security council refer in situation like libya and darfur. so it's moving. it's, it's we're doing the global revolution in legal
terms. >> what were the early days like? >> early days? >> yeah, early days. >> when i start? >> yes. >> six, six empty floors, two employees. everyone's thinking it would be closed. >> thinking it wouldn't last. >> no, everyone was thinking it would be closed. yeah, i would do nothing. in, in those days, i was at harvard teaching. and one colleague of mine told me, advised me not to take the job. said, "look, luis, it's great honor. but you have to reject it. " say, "why?" "because you will be nine years at the hague doing nothing and receiving a salary. because the (laugh) american, without the americans, you cannot investigate. you cannot arrest. you can do nothing. so for me, it was a good advice. because i said, "okay, i will do it in my own way with no americans. so and we move it. we move the court. the court now is up and running. we have people in jail. this year, they are integrating a new building, $400 million building at the hague. so the court is there. so that's feel, well, the, like
relax now because i took something that could disappear in one year and now it's an institution. how relevant will be, that's the next game. >> why did you take the job? >> how you cannot take the job? (laughter) come on. >> no. why did you, no. >> for me, the best job in the world. nothing is better than that. i mean, it's a great mission. my job was, they, they were paying me to help people. to use the law to control power. to assist those who no one cares. so we're very proud of what we did. so we connect with the people more abandon in the world. and then we help them to transform the information to evidence. so we are breaking the cycle of impunity. and working for people. what else? >>okay. the court, the court really doesn't have any enforcement mechanisms. how much of a challenge is that for the court? >> has that been, that (unintel phrase) think would be possible. but you know, we arrested many, many people. >> tell me about the, the successes of the court, as you
see them. >> no, the first is, it's existing. and it's working. and for in the, the best, the best case i did is the case i never opened. the best case for me is colombia. because in colombia, there were massive crime committed. but colombia was doing themselves. colombia w, itself did trials. and i went to colombia many times, talked to the president of colombia, the previous president. say, "look, you investigating the guerillas but not the army. you should be investigating the army, too. "so he (unintel) investigation of the army. so they were doing everything. now colombia is negotiating with the guerillas. everyone was understanding the game. and now they're making agreement respecting the rules. it's a new 21st century situation.
>> there are, of course, successes in africa. but what do you say to critics who say that africa has been unfairly targeted by the icc? >> that is bashir comment. that bashir campaign. and he's (unintel phrase). >> no, it's not only bashir. >> no. all of you repeat it (laugh) at the point. yeah, that's the point. when, when i indict president bashir, i remember some of them saying, "oh, it's against africa. and everyone would say, "no, it's a genocide. six year later, no one is talking about darfur genocide. and people repeat this alibi. based on former colonial past. but we don't like it. white people killing people in africa. but with, neither like black people killing ke, people in africa. but bashir in particular, when he was committing the genocide in darfur, his troops were saying, "we're going to kill you black people, negroes. that what he was saying. and he pretend he's the victim of a colonial court.
come on. that's, yeah, it's funny. and by the journalists in, in, outside repeat the story. because it's easy. it's, it's, it's on top of their prejudice. it's wrong. >> okay. so let me put it to you this way. do you feel that the the icc has been even-handed in their prosecution? >> yeah, because the rules are for instance, colombia is the case that could be similar. because i cannot investigate us because us not a party. i cannot be in nepal. i cou, so the icc couldn't, was, it's not possible to go to some place. >> you're fa, so you're saying in some cases you are limited by what countries are part of, >> exactly. that's one of the limitations. and second, most of the massive atrocities are committed in the, in the arab countries or in african countries. except tunisia and jordan, no other country's a member. so the court has jurisdiction. then you have massive atrocities in colombia. but colombia, as i mentioned, they are conducting national proceedings. and as such, when they are conducting national proceedings, icc should respect it. should not go.
so that means the remaining area is africa. and i'm workin' for african victims. i don't care african leaders. i care about african victims. because uganda, congo, refer their own case. not against others. the ivory coast request intervention, too. and the only application that security council referred two situation, libya and darfur. but the, i don't think they're trying to blame other country. they're just trying to do something that when they have no idea what to do, to stop massive atrocities. >> how do you remain impartial with so many of these cases that you dealt with when there's, there's often clearly a right and a wrong. how do you approach some of these cases? >> because i had to investigate the crimes and i had to respect the law. that, for me, was very helpful. because i'm not taking sides. >> you said respect the law. >> yeah, that's it. that was for me the beauty of my position. i could be tough but also firm and respectful. >> coming up on talk to al jazeera. ocampo reflects on his early fights for justice against the
>> i'm richelle carey and this is talk to al jazeera. joining me this week is argentine lawyer and former procecutor of the international criminal court. >> let's talk about you and your personal history in argentina. how did it get you to this point? >> by mistake. no. >> no, sir. >> my country had a dictatorship.
and then at the end of the dictatorships went to elections and was in just in process. people vote for investigation and prosecutions. and the first act of the leader elected, president alfonsin, was requesting investigation of the guerillas and the army commanders. and the first decision of the argentinian congress was to declare null the self-amnesty adopted by the army to protect themselves. so open the way to justice. and then in '84 we have, one of the first truth commission collecting information, exposing what happened. and crowning on this process was the juntas trial when i was a deputy prosecutor. and for six months, we have, 800 witness in public hearings explaining what happened. and that change my country. i never could convince my mother of what happened in my country. when i was conducting investigations, i was going to have lunch in the house of my mother. and she was trying to convince me to stop. she would say, "no. general videla's a nice guy. " he looked like my father, because my grandfather was a
general. so my mother was thinking he's a good man. and you're doing a big mistake. and i, i was tryin' to explain to her. and she'd say, "no. " but then when the trial start and my mother start to listen to witness. >> she call me and say, "i still love general videla. but you are right. he has to go to jail. " the trial is more than legal. at, that's why i learn, okay, i had my legal challenges. i got to investigate these crimes. but for me, yes, that's what i understood the importance of the law for my, people like my mother i change her mind. >> has there ever been a point in your career when i think about the kinds of cases you've been involved in going back to argentina, has there ever been a point in your career that you were fearful for your life? i don't wanna worry your mother. i'm just asking. >> my mother died. don't worry. >> okay. >> when i was 32 when i was appointed. the junta trial was my first trial. i never had, i never was a prosecutor before. and when they offered me the job. i could not resist.
of course, i had to, i would do it. but i was thinking, "okay, but they could kill me. " then i have some idea, okay, they will not kill me during democracy. so if they made a new coup d'tat, it's, it's clear i had to escape. after i'd say that, then you're swimming. you're in the waters and you'll keep swimming ahead. it's no way to go back. you keep ahead. you forget about that. >> no. what has the law taught you about people? >> ah, the law's critical to understand people because massive atrocities are not committed by evil persons. they're are committed by people who say they are protecting their own community. that's the issue. i kill my enemies. and the enemy kill my people. so that is the dynamic. in a national setting, we are not attack our neighbor when he steal our bike. we go to the police. so institutions help to, to stop this activity between groups. but at the global level,