Tag Archives: ICC

U.S. Refusal to Be Investigated By the ICC Redeems African Leaders

America’s contemptuous dismissal of the International Criminal Court’s attempts to investigate allegations of torture against US soldiers in Afghanistan demands a relook of African leaders’ long-standing criticism of this institution.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002, in terms of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute defined four international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

For a long time the ICC has been condemned for its one-sided prosecution of Third World leaders accused of such crimes. While it has investigated and jailed warlords like Charles Taylor, and even declared Omar Al-Bashir a wanted man, the court’s attempt to investigate the crimes of American soldiers in Afghanistan has led to a nasty response from the US National Security Adviser, John Bolton. Late last year the ICC opened a file to investigate the allegations that US military and CIA personnel committed acts of torture in the 17 years that the US has operated in Afghanistan. The investigation was opened by an ICC prosecutor from The Gambia, Fatou Bensuda.

The US is not a state party to the ICC, but Afghanistan is. The ICC therefore asserts jurisdiction over Afghanistan, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator. In response to the ICC’s move to prosecute US military men who were involved in detainee abuse in Afghanistan, John Bolton said, “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by the illegitimate court.”

While attempts by African countries like Burundi and South Africa to withdraw from the ICC was heavily condemned, it is noteworthy that the ICC has often come under criticism from African leaders. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni once referred to the ICC as “a bunch of useless people”. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said the ICC was a “tool of global power politics and not the justice it was built to dispense”. It is also interesting to note that the cases handled by the ICC were mainly instigated by the African countries involved.

Adotei Akwei, managing director for government relations at Amnesty International, rebuked the US position, saying its rejection of the ICC’s legitimacy “is an attack on millions of victims and survivors who have experienced the most serious crimes under international law and undermines decades of ground-breaking work by the international community to advance justice.”

Given America’s flagrant dismissal of the ICC, African leaders seem justified in their distrust of the court. The question that arises is this: If the court can’t deal with the powerful, how can its existence be justified?


​Calls For Africa’s Withdrawal From ICC Suffers Set Back At AU Summit

The 27th African Union Summit, which took place recently in Kigali, Rwanda, has come and gone, leaving behind far reaching decisions on burning issues that can impact on the lives of Africans and the development of the continent.

One of such issues was the call by some member countries that Africa should withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The call was championed by Kenya, which claimed that the ICC was targeting only African leaders.

Chad’s President Idriss Debby supported the call by Kenya, saying, “Elsewhere in the world, many things happen, many flagrant violations of human rights, but nobody cares.”

On the Other hand, Nigeria was on the opposing side, with support from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, and Algeria.

This group argued that the AU, as an entity, is not a member of the ICC and there are about twenty countries in the AU that are not members of the court and so there can’t be a collective decision on exiting the ICC.

Shedding more light on the matter, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama in an interview with Journalists in Kigali said no decision was reached on the matter.

“After the indictment of the President of Kenya and his Vice, some African countries called for a collective withdrawal from the ICC because they felt that only African countries were being unfairly targeted and so they felt that the court had lost its credibility,” he said.

The Minister further stated that the countries opposing the move to pull out of the membership of the court, argued that no collective treaty was signed by African countries to join the court, therefore; there can’t be a joint action on withdrawing.

“Some countries felt that since the accession to the treaty establishing the ICC was undertaken by countries on an individual basis, that it did not make sense for there to be a collective withdrawal, that if any country that acceded was not happy with the way the court is being run, then there should be an individual withdrawal as it were. Also, they believed that if there are changes that you could try and effect them within the court. Almost half of the AU member states are not parties to the Rome convention establishing the ICC, it doesn’t make sense that they should be party to a movement to get those who had acceded to withdraw collectively,” the Minister explained.

It would be recalled that following the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court was established in 2002 as the last resort to try war criminals and perpetrators of genocide but were never tried at home.

The court has so far opened inquiries involving nine nations, which include Kenya, Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Mali and most recently, Georgia.

It is the opinion of some that the efforts of Nigeria and the other countries that opposed the move, provides a real boost to the ICC. More such efforts will be needed in the future, bolstered by other African ICC members such as Sierra Leone, Malawi, and Ghana.

The ICC has its problems, but in the absence of action before national courts, it remains the only chance through which those responsible for the world’s worst crimes, even those at the highest levels of government like sitting Presidents may be held to account.

That is something well worth saving and improving for Africans and people everywhere.

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, led the country’s delegation to the summit in Kigali, Rwanda, which took place from 17th to the 19th of July 2016.

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  • Source: SaharaReporters