UN genocide adviser warns Kenyan
Wed 30 Jan 2008, 6:50 GMT
By Patrick Worsnip
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. special adviser on preventing
genocide and mass atrocities on Tuesday warned leaders responsible
for post-election violence in Kenya they could be held to account
for violations of international law.
Francis Deng told Reuters he was sending a staff member to look
into the situation in the east African country, where around 850
people have been killed since the disputed re-election of
President Mwai Kibaki in December.
The official, Marylene Smeets, was due to leave on Thursday, Deng
said in a telephone interview.
Deng said he was not saying that anything that had happened so far
in Kenya amounted to genocide. "We're not talking the g-word at
this point, but the kind of atrocities we're seeing could easily
escalate to dangerous levels," he said.
"Our whole approach is preventive," Deng said. "It's a question of
letting people know that someone has a role to play in instigating
or potentially preventing the violence. There is always that
prospect of someone being held accountable."
Deng said those responsible would initially be answerable under
domestic law but if they violated international law, their
accountability would be "at different levels". He declined to say
what international body might take action.
Deng said Smeets' mission would be to gather information and
report back to him so that he could brief U.N. Secretary-General
Separately, Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro
Wolff said he raised the issue of Kenya at a meeting of the U.N.
Security Council on Tuesday.
"We think this is a tragic situation," Wolff told reporters. "And
we thought it was high time that the council hear from the (U.N.)
secretariat and get a full briefing on the situation on the ground."
Ban's predecessor, Kofi Annan, is in Kenya and on Tuesday brought
the country's political rivals together in a push to end the
crisis and deepening tribal bloodshed.
The United Nations has smarted from accusations that it failed to
prevent genocide in Rwanda in 1994 but has suffered from the lack
of an agreed definition of the term.
When Deng was appointed last year, Ban told the Security Council
the job title had been changed "by adding 'mass atrocities' to
make it broader in scope without the need to determine first
whether a specific situation has a 'genocidal' character or not."