Ocampo to Community Media; you a have a bigger role than me in dividing or uniting Kenyans
By George Kebaso
ICC Chief Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo wants community media in the country to be the main stakeholder in explaining The Hague process as he prepares to issue summons to the six key suspects of Kenya’s 2007/2008 post election violence this Friday.
“You have a bigger role than me in dividing or uniting Kenyans. You represent victims,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told more than a dozen journalists who represent vernacular radio stations in Kenya when he visited the country recently.
Contrary to “misinterpretations” from a section of politicians in the country that has threatened to derail The Hague process, Moreno-Ocampo also wants community and local language radio platforms to help his office keep victims of the post-election violence well informed through the ICC process.
Speaking to more than a dozen journalists and radio presenters working with community radio stations in Nairobi a week ago, the prosecutor said that vernacular stations presented the best opportunity for the locals to know the ICC process.
In an exclusive meeting with community radio journalists and media practitioners working with Internews Network at the non-governmental media organisation’s offices at I&M, Ocampo said vernacular radio stations also bore the brunt of the PEV. Some of the stations were accused of tribal incitement and fanned hatred among certain communities during the 2007 election campaigns and at the height of the PEV.
During his three-hour jovial ‘question and answer’ meeting with the journalists, Ocampo, who had otherwise kept away from the media, volunteered a proposal to the community journalists.
“Can I make an offer,” the prosecutor announced, “once a month, you can collect questions from your people and I will answer them, I would like to keep in touch but I do not know when I will come back to Kenya.”
Striking an easy pose as he took in questions; comments and suggestions from the journalists, he recommended that the radio stations start a monthly “Ask-Ocampo” forum, where they can gather all the questions that the people have, over the process and send them to him at The Hague after which he will write back with answers.
Internews Resident Journalism Advisor for Kenya’s Land and Conflict Sensitive Journalism programme ,Brice Rambaud confirmed that his office had already kicked off such an initiative with the first queries about the ICC process, been answered.
“As a matter of fact, our Democracy and Governance department here has already started the initiative,” said Mr. Rambaud.
The prosecutor explained that since he cannot reach the communities directly, the initiative through the radio vernacular stations that serve the locals would help him get in touch with the whom so far were the most affected by the crimes committed during the PEV.
“We want to explain to them how we proceed with our cases,” the prosecutor said “we want to receive their questions and comments and the concerns they have.”
The prosecutor said it was important for the ICC “to interact with communities affected by the violence.”
“I hope to meet the communities through you,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said.
A couple of journalists and vernacular radio presenters called for constant updates of the process as the prosecutor prepares to presents his case before the ICC judges.
“When interacting with the people on the ground, one would easily notice fear and anxiety among them on the ICC process. Subsequently, information needs to trickle down to the people in order to help manage expectations,” Kass FM presenter Tomothy Kirui said.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo acknowledged that there will be bigger challenges ahead as the process gains momentum and said the media will play a significant role in guiding the country through the process.
“Leaders are telling the people that they cannot trust the ICC,” Benjamin Wangari of Inooro FM said.
But now that he met Ocampo on a one-on-one, Wangari expressed hope that his listeners would trust him. “I will now speak to the people with authority after meeting Ocampo face to face, my people will trust me.”
Popular Kass FM radio talk show host, Joshua Sang said the forum will be important in easing the “tension” his listeners have.
Other journalists who attended the meeting said the question and answer initiative would be key to explaining the complex ICC process to Kenyans.
source Kenya London News