UN, Rapp Raps on Taylor Trial, Dodges on Johnson Sirleaf and Obama
War Crimes Post
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 16 -- Already nominated to become President Obama's
Ambassador at Large for War Crimes, Iowan Stephen Rapp came to the UN
on July 16 to cautiously discuss the Charles Taylor trial ongoing at
the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. In a nine-minute
stakeout interview which only Inner City Press attended -- call it an
exclusive -- Rapp and the Court's President Renate Winter took five
questions and answer three and a half. Video here.
asked about the 227 witnesses that Taylor has called for his defense.
Will the prosecution be trying to whittle the list down? Renate
Winter said that will be up to the presiding judge. Rapp noted that
in the case of the interim leader of the RUF, the defense named 330
possible witnesses and ended up calling 59.
asked about the missing and perhaps dead indictee Johnny Paul Koroma.
said that either an internationalized court could be set up within
the judicial system of Sierra Leone -- but then amnesty might apply
-- or that the case could be transferred to other countries which
would have jurisdiction. He said that discussion have begun with two
such countries, which he would not name.
Stephen Rapp at UN on July 16, 2009, 2 countries not shown
press coverage of the trial has revolved around the skulls Taylor
acknowledges authorizing his forces to display at roadblocks, Inner
City Press asked what probative value if any this might have, and if
Rapp thinks the media is focused on the wrong things at the trial.
Rapp said he will not comment on anything under judicial
consideration, but that skulls could constitute a "gruesome
display of human remains" and have some probative value.
it has asked
Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson, the UN envoy to West African Said Djinnet
and Congo envoy Alan Doss, Inner City Press asked Rapp to comment on
the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendation
that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf be barred from public life for
thirty years, in part for providing financial support to Charles
Taylor. Rapp said "what happened in Liberia... is up to
Liberians," and noted that Liberia's parliament must consider
the TRC's recommendations.
that Rapp has
been nominated for his new U.S. job, Inner City Press asked Renate
Winter what provisions are being made to replace him. She said there
will not be a day with out a prosecutor. Rapp added that if he is
confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will begin arranging for a
transition, seeing how much notice he should provide.
is a lawyer's
lawyer, but whether his soft spoken style is best suited for the
Obama Administration's Ambassador at Large for War Crimes, as the
Administration considers joining the International Criminal Court,
remains to be seen. The fact that only one reporter waited to
question him even after the nomination speaks either to lameness
within the UN press corps, or to a perceived lack of news value. Rapp
knows the system, and could well advise a more public face of the
fight against impunity. We'll see.
* * *
North Korea Sanctions Include Kevlar, Staged by US Amid Free
Matthew Russell Lee at the UN: News
NATIONS, July 16 -- Four days after what was said to be its deadline,
the UN's North Korea Sanctions Committee on July 16 imposed asset
freezes on five companies and five individuals, and prohibited
providing North Korea with certain graphite products and, strangely,
Kevlar. This last is usually associated with bullet proof vests.
Inner City Press asked the Charge d'Affaires of the Republic
Turkey Mr. Fazli Corman, the Acting Chairman of
the Sanctions Committee, why Kevlar was on the list. He said it was
too technical to answer. Later, Googling,
star of the
stakeout was Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu, who called it a
historic day. Inner City Press asked if there had been any discussion
of taking action on banks which might enable North Korea's arms trade
or program, such as the bank in Malaysia regarding which the U.S.
reportedly recently contacted Kuala Lumpur. Takasu replied that all
banks -- "not only in Malaysia" -- have a duty of not
assisting Pyongyang's programs.
asked Takasu about the Kang Nam 1 ship which left North Korea,
reportedly for Myanmar, then turned back. One reporter yelled, what
was on it? I am not comfortable discussing that in public, Takasu
answered. Undeterred, Inner City Press asked if Takasu thought or
knew it was heading for Myanmar. Takasu did not answer.
Japan's Takasu at a stakeout, with US flag but not speaker
met in the UN's basement, this Q & A took place upstairs before
UN TV camera, in the second floor stakeout in front of the Security
Council. Earlier on Thursday, after an ill-attended stakeout by
Stephen Rapp, current Special Court for Sierra Leone Prosecutor now
nominated for the U.S.'s top war crimes post, a representative of the
US Mission to the UN asked UN TV to not take apart its camera, to
stay waiting "for an hour."
than an hour
later, the Turkish and Japanese Ambassadors came up to talk, along
with at least two US Mission staffers. No one spoke for the US,
however. Some wonder if the Obama Administration, eager for dialogue,
does not want to be too closely associated, at least on camera, with
the the imposition of sanctions. On the other hand, Japan is clearly
the most threatened -- except South
in full disclosure, just as the Sanctions Committee meeting was
getting out in the UN basement at 1:15 p.m., a meeting began on
"applying sustainable development to arms-transfer decisions," complete
Several reporters including this one picked up one of the
free sandwiches -- roasted red pepper on thick black bread -- but did
not attend the arms control event, rather followed Takasu up to the
second floor stake out. One US Mission staffer called this "ghetto,"
and vowed to blog about it. To echo George W. Bush and Pyongyang, on
peppers but not Kevlar: bring it on.