William and Mary Law School

International Criminal Court

I went to the International Criminal Court (ICC) today! I was given the day off to attend a session. The Court is currently addressing the post-election violence in Kenya. On trial are Deputy President William Ruto (who wasn't in court today - just his legal team) and Joshua Sang, head of a readio station in Nairobi. I am really glad that I had started on the Kenya research last week because otherwise I'm pretty sure all the acronyms and names were continually referenced would have confused me. 

Ruto is being accused of planning the violence ahead of time and helping to exacerbate it after it began, and Sang is accused of using his station to advocate violence against particular people groups. Today's witness was part of an internationally-staffed commission that, from what I gathered, was hired by the president of Kenya in 2008 to investigate what had happened. It appears that the commission's report was used as evidence that the violence was indeed preconceived rather than spontaneous. Today was cross-examination day. I kind of felt bad for the Defense. They were making rather good points. The lawyer was calling into question the methodology the commission used, the neutrality of the commission itself, the credibility of the testimonies taken by the commission, and the general decisions of the commission as far as what they did with the report when it was complete. Listening to the transcipts from the meetings that the Defense reference, one could argue that some witnesses had political motivations and affiliations and that perhaps there could have been some bias. Problem was that they did not have the best witness to get information from. He was a former (retired?) police officer (or chief maybe?) from New Zealand, and you could tell that he was used to dealing with defense attorneys. He kept dancing around the questions and was always very careful never to give his personal opinion even if asked for it. He also refused to comment on anything anyone else on the commission had said. 

The seating was great. The gallery was in a room just behind the witness stand (which was in front of and facing the judges), really just separated by what I assume was bullet proof glass, so you felt quite close to the proceedings. As a American law student, I was intrigued by how incredibly formal everything was. No suits. Everyone was in a black robe with a white collar-tie thing, except the judges, who were distinguished by a blue sort of trim on the robes. Whenever someone entereed or exited (like the clerks and assistants going back and forth to get things), they would stop at the door frame and give a slight bow to the judges. Also, rather than co-council or opposing council or Mr. Prosecutor, the lawyers referred to each other as "my learned friend." I found out they have summer interns, but I'm not sure how it would work given that their two summer time frames run into either finals weeks or the first few weeks of class, depending on which one. Anyway...it was really fun to go. I hope to go back if I can.

Last week's adventure was making and American meal for the family I'm staying with. I decided on gumbo because it was the only thing that I could think of that you really don't see outside the States. I found an Emeril recipe that didn't require okra (because that just seemed like it would be way to hard to pin down), and had a bit of an adventure getting things since I translated all the ingredients to Dutch and then hadto ask the staff where everything was because I couldn't read the signs above the aisles.. I had also brought a cornbread mix that I got in Colonial Williamsburg, and my mom sent me ingredients to make fudge. I spent the entire day Sunday in the kitchen. I haven't cooked since I left Williamsburg, so I was having lots of fun, especially since I've never made any of those things before. The family really liked it. After the meal, they sang a song in appreciation. I have no idea what they said, but it was very sweet :)

My birthday is coming up. I'm still not sure what my plans are, but it's the first time I've spent it in another country, so it should be fun!