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The ICC: Tread carefully

Feb 11, 2016, 9:42 AM

The accusation being leveled against the International Criminal Court (ICC) that it is biased against African leaders is getting extremely strong.

Ever since its establishment in 2002 the ICC has been seen to be pursuing or prosecuting only African leaders for‘wrongdoing’eventhough gross violation of human rightsand war crimes are being perpetuated by leaders and statesmen of other continents around the world.

At the ICC’s Second Sub-Regional Seminar of Counsel and the Legal Profession under way in Arusha, Tanzania, (8 – 12 Feb 2016) coordinated by the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), The Hague-based ICC stands accused of being biasedand is, therefore,urged to review its stance on African leaders.

“We are witnessing political turmoil boiling all over the world where also cases of breached human rights are the order of the day, yet it is only when such things happen in Africa that The Hague reacts strongly, as if the continent’s leaders are the devils,” the Constitutional Affairs and Justice Minister of Tanzaniahas said.

Although the Registrar of the ICC has said that The Hague “only deals with countries that have ratified the Rome Statute thus cannot persecute leaders of states that have not,the factremains that hardly, if any, leaders of European countries – most of whom are partyto the ICC’s Rome Statute – areprosecuted at The Hague.

It is on record that so far, 23 cases in nine situations in African countries have been taken to the International Criminal Court.

And 39 individuals have been indicted in the ICC, including Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.

Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor has been the first African leader to be indicted, convicted and sentenced by the ICC.

The ICC subsequently issued warrants of arrests against Joseph Kony, and his commanders Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen in May 2005.

The trial of former president of Cote d’Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo and his close political associate, Charles Ble Goude is ongoing, while warrants of arrests have been issued for Harun, Kushayb and President Hassan Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also has about six cases of its people at the ICC, which included Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Germain Katanga, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Callixte Mbarushimana, Sylvestre Mudacumura and Bosco Ntaganda.

This copious evidence of cases at the ICC against African leaders has let the AU always demanding to know if the ICC was “established to prosecute only African leaders”.

The ICC is, therefore, urged to tread carefully.

“There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts.”

Mahatma Gandhi