African Countries Quitting The ICC
The Gambia, South Africa and Burundi have given indication of their intention to quit the International Criminal Court. The decision to quit the court should not come as a surprise to anybody. For a long time, many have held the view that the court is used for the persecution of Africans, especially their leaders while ignoring crimes committed by the West. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The court is meant to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individuals states refer investigations to the Court.
Since, it began functioning on first July 2002, the Office of the Prosecutor, an organ of the court has opened ten official investigations and is also conducting an additional nine preliminary examinations. So far, 39 individuals have been indicted in the ICC including Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. It is not intriguing that all the 39 people indicted by the court are all Africans? There is no doubt that there are many Western countries that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC but not a single western citizen let alone leader has been indicted.
It is still mind boggling why former US President George Bush and his friend former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair have still not been investigated for the baseless war they waged against Iraq, which resulted in the killing of Sadam Hussein and thousands of Iraqis. The ICC, despite being called International Criminal Court, is nothing other than an International Caucasian court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans. The unfairness of the court can also be seen in the fact that, the US, which regards itself as the champion of democracy and human rights, signed the court's treaty but has never ratified it, yet it is quick to refer other citizens to the ICC. The same America goes about signing treaties with less powerful countries not to surrender American citizens to the ICC, even when they are indicted.
The decision by the three African countries to withdraw from the Court is a step in the right direction. It does not matter that the current Chief prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, is an African, a former Justice Minister of the Gambia. The decision to withdraw must not be misconstrued to mean a blank cheque for the commission of crime. By all means, those who commit crime must be punished. It is true that some African leaders are notorious for committing heinous crimes against their own people. These leaders must be dealt with. The AU must be able to establish its own court to deal with such cases. There must be African solution to African problems. The continent has come of age and is in a position to deal with its own troubles. If 60 years ago, Ghana's first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah declared that, the black man was capable of managing its own affairs, how can it not do so now?
It is understandable that judging from the conduct of the continental leaders, they have not demonstrated enough commitment to strengthening their institutions. But that is no justification for western powers to interfere in the affairs of the continent. It behoves the citizens of African to demand more from their leaders. Instead of this scratch my back, let me scratch your back, the leaders must be bold to condemn their colleagues who are not living up to expectation. The need for an African Court of Justice is very necessary. This will ensure that those leaders who abuse the rights of their citizens and those who visit terror and tyranny on their people are dealt with Justice is a pre-requisite for peace and development.
BY BUBU KLINOGO, A JOURNALIST.