Kenya�s Appellate Judge Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch has been appointed as a judge to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Justice Aluoch trounced renowned judges from across the world to capture one of the highly coveted positions.
And now, following the appointment by the UN General Assembly on Monday,
Justice Aluoch: God�s miracle
Kenyans who find themselves accused of crimes against humanity may just face their very own Justice Aluoch at The Hague.
Speaking to The Standard from New York, Aluoch expressed delight and shock at the appointment.
Said she: “I do not know what to say. This is God�s miracle. It was tough. We have been here since January 6 lobbying for the position and God has come through for us.”
According to the ICC website, Aluoch was elected at the final round of the vote and garnered two-thirds majority required and will serve for nine years.
Her election came two months after a Kenyan diplomat, Zachary Muburi-Mwita was elected one of the vice-presidents of the ICC secretariat.
Aluoch first beat a host of 11 African lawyers and judges to become the first Kenyan to sit on the ICC Bench and would be joined by Monageng Sanji Mmasenono from Botswana.
The ICC Bench is composed of 18 judges carefully elected to represent various regions.
Competition to serve on the Bench of the ICC is stiff and for Aluoch to be elected, Kenya had to put up a serious campaign to lobby for her candidature.
“The ICC has jurisdiction to try war criminals. Getting elected to serve in the ICC is no mean feat. The process is highly competitive and Justice Aluoch deserves a pat on the back,” said former nominated MP Njoki Ndung�u.
Ndung�u praised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General and Kenyan delegation for what she termed a great campaign to get Aluoch elected.
She said the appointment was good news coming at a time when the US President Barack Obama, who traces his roots to Kenya, assumed office.
“International positions rarely go to women and an African for that matter. This is a major achievement and will serve as an inspiration for many Kenyan women. The fact that she got the highest number of votes goes to confirm the international community�s confidence in her,” she said.
The Law Society of Kenya chairman Okong�o Omogeni welcomed Aluoch�s election and said it was a great honour to the country�s legal profession.
“I congratulate and wish her all the best. Her appointment to the ICC Bench is a statement of the international community�s confidence in the Kenyan legal system,” said Omogeni.
Ndung�u said this would open doors for more Kenyans to be appointed to international positions.
Aluoch has extensive judicial experience spanning more than three decades. She joined the Judiciary as a district magistrate in 1974 and rose through the ranks to her current position. She was appointed to the High Court in 1983.
Apart from serving on the Bench, Aluoch is knowledgeable in human rights and international humanitarian laws, especially on children�s rights.
She also served as the chairperson of the African Union Committee on the Rights of the Child in Addis Ababa between 2001 and 2005.
Wealth of experience
In 2000 Aluoch was appointed a judge of the International Tribunal for war-affected children.
Currently, she chairs the Multi-sectoral National Task Force formed by the AG to implement the Sexual Offences Act, 2006. She holds a Masters degree in International Affairs from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Boston, USA. She graduated from University of Nairobi with a Bachelors degree in law and also holds a Diploma in Legal Studies from Kenya School of Law.
Aluoch singled out Mr Mwita, Kenya�s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Kenyan Mission in the UN in New York, and the legal officer, Stella Orina as having played a pivotal role for her to be elected.
The ICC is an independent, permanent court that has jurisdiction to try persons accused of the gravest crimes of international concern. These crimes include genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. According to its website, the ICC is a court of last resort. “It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine, for example if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility.”
Kenya has been under the spotlight from the ICC prosecutor�s office following the recommendations of the Waki Report on post-election violence.
The Waki Commission recommended that should the Government fail to constitute a local tribunal to investigate those suspected of perpetrating the violence, the suspects should be forwarded to the ICC.
Since it began operating in 2002, the ICC has investigated war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, the Central-African Republic and Darfur.
Last week, The former president of the Congo Liberation Movement, Jean-Pierre Bemba, appeared before the ICC on Monday to face five counts of war crimes allegedly committed in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003.
On July 14 last year, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested the court to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir for alleged crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur region of western Sudan.