Reports from Harare indicate that Zimbabwe has promised to back calls for Africa to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) during an African Union summit this weekend in Ethiopia. President Mugabe’s government is sending wrong signals at a time it is crucial to impress West about reforms. Without international credit lines available, proceeds from diamond and funding from China is not enough to service national debt alone without leaving anything to bridge budget deficit.
The Southern African country has signed the Rome Statute that created the ICC but has not ratified it, which means it is not bound by the court’s obligations. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new Justice Minister on Thursday accused the ICC of targeting African leaders while letting off their Western counterparts. He is quoted implying that the instrument is being used against African leaders more than it is being used against cowboys like (former US president George Bush, (former British prime minister) Tony Blair.
#ICC headquarters in Hague has been accused of only targeting Africans
The International Criminal Court (ICC) describes itself as being governed by the Rome Statute. It is a treaty based permanent international criminal court created to curtail impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community-war crimes.
The ICC is independent from United Nations system and its headquarters is in the city of Hague in Netherlands.Its Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, but also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals and private sector.
In principle, ICC has a place in the international community following atrocities like massacre of Jews by Hitler in the 20th century. World powers reached a consensus on definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes after the Second World War. Genocide in Rwanda, Yugoslavia (many accused are still being tried at Hague to the contrary of AU claim), Darfur,bombing of World Trade Centre twin towers (9/11) forced the world agree that there was general agreement that an independent, permanent criminal court was needed. On 17 July 1998, the international community reached an historic milestone when 120 States adopted the Rome Statute which formed the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court and it started 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.
African Union is ill advised because ICC may exercise jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as set out in the Rome Statute committed anywhere on this planet. This includes those directly responsible for committing the crimes as well as others who may be liable for the crimes, for example by aiding, abetting or otherwise assisting in the commission of a crime like military commanders.
In theory ICC does not have universal jurisdiction and The Rome Statute may only allow jurisdiction if:
The accused is a national of a State Party or a State otherwise accepting the jurisdiction of the Court;
The crime took place on the territory of a State Party or a State otherwise accepting the jurisdiction of the Court; or
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has referred the situation to the Prosecutor, irrespective of the nationality of the accused or the location of the crime.This last condition is where the catch is. African Union can vote this weekend in Ethiopia to pull out of ICC but such a move is only a publicity stance. If UNSC votes to prosecute any African leader for butchering their citizens,regardless of absence of ICC ratification, the International Warrant of Arrest will be issued.
So is ICC being used to target Africa?
To date ICC has cases open only in Africa namely:
- Central African Republic (Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo),
- Cote D’Ivore(Laurent Gbagbo),
- DRC(Thomas Labanga Dyilo and 7 others),
- Darfur-Sudan(Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir and 7 others),
- Kenya (President Kenyatta, his deputy Ruto and one other)
- Uganda(Joseph Kone and 7 others at the invitation of Uganda government),
- Libya (Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and three others including his dead father)
- Mali (government has invited ICC to press charges on named individuals).
- Charles Taylor of Liberia has already been jailed for 50 years
Charles Taylor sponsored rebels in Sierra Leone which killed thousands and displaced millions.He has been jailed for 50 years and will serve in UK.
Joseph Kone is Commander In Chief of Lord’s Resistance Army.His army recruits children and amputate limbs as punishment.
President Mugabe and African Leaders
African Union has ignored human right abuses on the continent by its leaders.
Opposition figures and civic society in Zimbabwe argue that one reason why Mugabe hangs on to power is that he fears The Hague. MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai attempted to address that issue on international visit to EU by promising not to prosecute the veteran leader. Five years after attaining independence from Britain, Mugabe was facing rebellion from Zipra combatants and a cleansing campaign (Gukurahundi) killed nearly 20 000 people mainly from the Ndebele tribe in Matebeleland. Mugabe has ever since only expressed regret over the “madness” but has not apologised neither has there been a truth and reconciliation cleansing process. Down the line as opposition grew to his leadership, several cases of abuse of human right have been recorded against opposition party supporters. It is argued that he would rather die in office that face a possibility of trial.
Apart from South Africa, no African state is close to being democratic as expressed in conducting “free and fair” elections. Corruption has led to abuses of human rights all over Africa. It is the reason why they would want to pull out of ICC. The generation of African leaders who fought colonialism is notorious for clinging on to power. They will always tell you that they are guarding against the white man coming back to recolonise their nation.
Let alone ICC or the West, Africans deserve liberty and progress. Day after day, citizens watch as leaders enrich themselves at the expense of starving masses.