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Jun-06-2012 17:12printcomments

Ocampo Says Speech Can Be Crime, Steps Back from Sri Lanka Mapping

Sri Lanka's General Shavendra Silva, depicted in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's own report engaged in war crimes.

Major General Shavendra Silva
Major General Shavendra Silva

(UNITED NATIONS) - As International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo delivered his swan song Tuesday in a Security Council briefing on Darfur, Sudan's Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman sounded a discordant note outside at the stakeout. In the end each man declared victory.

Inside the Council, Ocampo said that Sudan's Ambassador should perhaps be prosecuted for defending his government's crimes. Inner City Press later asked Ocampo: wouldn't this theory chill even a defense lawyer?

Ocampo replied that there is a difference between being an Ambassador and being part of a crime. But, it has become increasingly clear to Inner City Press as it has covered the UN, that difference or line is by no means clear.

Take for example Sri Lanka: its Permanent Representative used to be a UN Office of Legal Affairs official, while its Deputy PR is General Shavendra Silva, depicted in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's own report engaged in war crimes.

But Ban accepts Silva as a Senior Adviser on Peacekeeping Operations, saying it is entirely up to member states. So where is the line? And who is blurring it?

Also inside the Council, Sudan's PR cites among other US envoy Dane Smith for the proposition that genocide and ethnic cleansing is not going on in Darfur. One waited for a response from the US; one is sure to come.

Ocampo said the same of Sudan's former Ambassador, who still works for the government without being indicted.

When Inner City Press asked Ocampo about his proposal to criminalize speech, he justified it by saying the victims are not at the UN. But in the case of Darfur, there are many countries indicting Sudan. Should a country under fire have no defense at all?

Inner City Press asked Ocampo about a map he brought in a folder to a UN event in September 2009 and which Inner City Press exclusively photographed and wrote about. It depicted Countries Where Crimes Have Occurred, including Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.

Syria wasn't on his map in 2009, but in answer to another correspondent's question he said the situation was the same: no jurisdiction.

Ocampo, just before his swam song briefing, was made aware of another Sri Lanka related situation; one wonders what he might do on it.

A third correspondent asked Ocampo's spokeswoman, who will continue with his successor Fatou Bensouda, for a copy of the map.

Ocampo himself said he'd like to be involved in action on Somalia piracy, the Mexican and Colombian drug wars, as well as writing case studies and teaching. He was asked, "A book?" When he said maybe, the crowd said yes. We'll see.

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