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To reflect on different accountability mechanisms for serious human rights violations and international crimes, including the exercise of universal jurisdiction, the Wayamo Foundation and the Prosecution Training Institute (PTI) co-hosted a symposium on “Domestic accountability mechanisms for international crimes: new developments and opportunities in East Africa” on the 7th of September 2023 at the PTI in Nairobi, Kenya. The event brought together international and Kenyan experts and prosecutors to discuss international criminal justice themes. The symposium was opened by Jacinta Nyamosi, Deputy Director Department of Offences against the person, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) who spoke in representation of Dorcas Oduor, Secretary of Public Prosecutions, ODPP, Kenya.
The symposium explored timely and pressing questions, including the exercise of universal jurisdiction, both internationally and in the East African region, different accountability mechanisms for international crimes, the role that digital open-source information can play in supporting investigations and criminal trials, and Kenya’s experience in applying the International Crimes Act (including its universal jurisdiction provisions), and modern forms of evidence domestically.
The symposium was an opportunity to discuss the current and future role of Kenya in the world of international criminal law. During the meeting, those present shared their views on what leadership regarding justice and accountability Kenya could offer.
Welcoming the participants to the symposium, Director of the PTI, Kemo Alloys noted that “the PTI offers specialized prosecutorial training which is envisaged to enhance execution of the ODPP mandate. Trainings such as today’s will considerably contribute to our mission. We thank Wayamo for helping to make this possible.”
Bettina Ambach, Director of the Wayamo Foundation thanked the PTI for hosting the symposium and noted the long-standing collaboration between the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the Wayamo Foundation. She expressed the hope that through these engagements the capacity of prosecutors can be built to support the pursuit of justice and accountability. “We can think about how East African prosecution authorities can learn about new technological developments to enrich their investigative and prosecutorial strategies and think outside the box to apply these skills.” She further pointed out that various accountability mechanisms exist at the international as well as the domestic level, including universal jurisdiction. “Perhaps we can also initiate a discussion on the application of universal jurisdiction in the region, to sow the seeds of universal jurisdiction opportunities for international and transnational crimes.”
Experts speaking at the symposium included Vincent Monda, Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Akingbolahan Adeniran, International criminal law expert and former Attorney-General of Ogun State, Nigeria, Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, Associate Professor of Law, University of Khartoum, Sudan, Libby McAvoy, Legal Advisor, Mnemonic, Saeeda Verrall, Legal Officer at the United Nations, Mark Kersten, Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University Fraser Valley, Canada, and Senior Consultant, Wayamo Foundation, Tabitha Ouya, Head of Civil Rights Division, Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Kenya and Jagganaden Muneesamy, Acting Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Director of Public Prosecutions, Mauritius.
After a full day of engaging on international justice themes, Kemo Alloys thanked the Wayamo Foundation for their time and effort. He expressed his gratitude for bringing together experts and Kenyan prosecutors to discuss these important topics. “It is a discussion that we hope prosecutors will continue to have in Kenya, and one that will continue to take shape and form as time progresses.”
The symposium was held in the context of Wayamo’s ongoing project “Capacity building for civil society and the justice sector in Sudan” project, which is set in the wider context of providing training in international criminal law, international humanitarian law and human rights to civil society and legal actors both in Sudan and the East African region, aimed at building a coalition committed to addressing impunity through regional and domestic accountability measures, such as national court systems.