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An uneviable position

Documentary looks at a year in the life of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo
|Written By Gail J. Cohen

Luis Moreno-Ocampo walks a fine line. As chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court his job is as much about politics as it is about brining criminals to justice.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Koenraad Swaef

A documetary that makes its world broadcast premier on TVO tonight gives an unprecendented inside view on how the ICC works and the challenges it and, particularly Moreno-Ocampo, face in trying to bring the world’s worst criminals to justice.

The 95-minute documentary Prosecutor, directed by Toronto-based Barry Stevens, is quite compelling. It covers a seminal year at the ICC: 2009 in which the court opened its first trial against alleged Congolese war criminal Thomas Lubangaas well as indicting a sitting head of state, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. It is based  in part on the book The Sun Climbs Slow: The International Criminal Court and the Struggle for Justice by Erna Paris.

It doesn’t shy away from addressing some of the controversies and frustrations that continue to plague the court today, even as Moreno-Ocampo begins an investigation of embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. There are claims that the prosecutor won’t challenge U.S. power and that’s why there’s been no investigations of alleged war crimes by U.S. or even Canadian forces in Afghanistan or of Israeli actions in Gaza. There’s also the thorny issue of whether indicting alleged war criminals gets in the way of peaceful resolution to conflicts. To top it all off, the ICC and Moreno-Ocampo don’t have any enforcement powers and must wait for sovereign states to arrest those that have been indicted.

Through all the controversy and political wrangling, you see Moreno-Ocampo — who prosecuted former political and military leaders in his home country of Argentina in the 1980s — maintaining his focus on justice and working toward changing behaviours “without war.” Despite setbacks and frustrations, the prosecutor says he’s got a “mountain of energy” and will continue to fight for what he believes in but other consider a pie-in-the-sky idealistic dream.

Prosecutor is produced by the National Film Board and White Pine Pictures in association with TVO. It premiers tonight at 9 p.m. ET on TVO with an encore presentation at 11 p.m. on May 15. It’s well worth the watch.  As well, Moreno-Ocampo will be interviewed by Steve Paikin on The Agenda immediately preceding the documentary tonight.


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