Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

International Justice/ICC: Aug/Sept '11

Kenyan reporters get to grips with ICC as confirmation of charges hearings in cases connected with post-election violence get underway.

Eight journalists from Kenya travelled to The Hague in September for a two-week training course aimed at strengthening their reporting skills and improving their understanding of the International Criminal Court, ICC, and the justice process in their country.

The trip coincided with the confirmation of charges hearings in the Kenya cases at the ICC.

The journalists all had a longstanding interest in international journalism and many had covered developments at the ICC since the court opened an investigation into the 2007-08 post-election atrocities in March 2010.

In March this year, the ICC summoned six leading public figures who are suspected of orchestrating the violence that was ended by a power-sharing agreement brokered by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan in early 2008.

The individuals, who include the former education minister and the deputy prime minister, come from the Orange Democratic Movement, ODM, and the Party of National Unity, PNU, and are all suspected of committing crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.

“I can already see by the stories he is covering on the Hague proceedings involving Kenyan citizens that [our reporter] has a deeper understanding since his training, on how the court operates,” said, Carol Radull, programme editor at Radio Africa.

“The areas [IWPR training] covered will greatly help him when covering the ongoing Kenyan cases at the ICC. He can now report from a point of information and not speculation.”

The journalists were selected from various ethnic and media backgrounds, and from both radio and print media outlets which partnered with IWPR in the project. The partner publications are The Standard and The Star, two of Kenya’s daily newspapers, and Capital FM, Kass FM, Kameme FM, Pamoja FM, Easy FM and Radio Africa.

The aim of the programme was to broaden and professionalise the journalists’ skills and engage them in some of the fundamentals of good journalistic practice and court reporting.

The journalism training was planned to stimulate and reinforce journalism skills and to apply them to reporting on the Kenyan cases at the ICC. The areas covered included conflict reporting, ethnic and gender sensitivity, interviewing, court reporting, investigative journalism, and analysis of sources.

“We appreciate the training assistance accorded to [our reporter] while at The Hague,” said John Bundotich, editor of The Standard newspaper in Nairobi. “We very much welcome further engagement with IWPR.”

The training was conducted by IWPR trainers Janet Anderson, Simon Jennings and Rachel Irwin in partnership with lecturers from the Institute for Social Studies in The Hague.

Reporters themselves also welcomed the programme, which IWPR hopes will form the basis of a relationship with reporters and media outlets in Kenya as the cases at the ICC unfold.

“The training led by IWPR was very profitable as it could be applied practically in our daily jobs,” said one journalist who participated in the training. “The interviewing skills gained: how to choose interviewees, [and] the purpose of interviews was superb.”

As part of the training programme, IWPR commissioned journalists to produce analytical reports on developments in the Kenyan cases and their repercussions in Kenya that were suitable for both a local and international audience. The radio and print productions include: ICC Cases Threatened by Social Media Leaks and ICC in Kenyan Victims Assistance Dilemma.

All productions are currently being published or broadcast internationally as well as by local media outlets.

As part of the programme, the eight journalists also undertook a two-day trip to the Nuremberg Tribunal in southern Germany where they learnt about the origins of international criminal justice and how it can be can be applied in post-conflict situations.

Through discussion with human rights activists in Nuremberg, reporters gained a variety of views on the ICC and on international justice as it is practised today.

“Nuremberg was a perfect example [of how international justice came about] for us [in Kenya],” said IWPR trainee, Judie Kaberia. “What came to my mind when we went [there] was the real reason why Kenya needs a local tribunal: the importance of institutional memory and of course dealing with underlying causes of what led to the post-election violence in 2007-08, [and] what exactly happened.”

During November IWPR will be conducting a follow-up training in Kenya and commissioning further pieces from reporters ahead of the ICC judges’ ruling on whether to confirm charges against the Kenyan suspects. An IWPR trainer will also conduct a training programme on ICC reporting at the Radio Africa media group.