Tag Archives: International Criminal Court

South Africa should have sent Bashir to the ICC

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has left South Africa to his country, defying South African’s constitution to prevent his departure on the basis of an International Criminal Court order for his arrest.

Yet another setback for human rights in Africa.

The whole conversation about the ICC being prejudiced against Africans is misplaced. Now, I am not saying that only Africans deserve to face trial at the ICC. Far from it. Many individuals deserve to be tried under the institution.
What I think however, is that ICC is our best way to get justice considering the weak national and continental judicial institutions.
The national legal systems too often serve the ruling party, and has been heavily politically biased. Case in point, I strongly believe ICC is in a much better position to offer Laurent Gbagbo an impartial trial than any national jurisdiction. Same would apply for Sudan, Kenya and many other countries.
Regarding the continental institutions, we would not even be here discussing whether or not the ICC had to investigate Bashir, if the African Union was doing its job to improve the situation for the continent, as opposed to just serving its leaders.

Same thing with the whole issue around a resolution against “third terms”, where the institution could have led the way for democracy in several countries. Of course, nothing much will come from the African Union Heads of State and Government in South Africa. As Justice Malala said in The Guardian last week,

You cannot have moral authority with 91-year-old president-for-life Robert Mugabe at the helm

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Immunity for African leaders?

Another example of poor leadership from the African heads of state:

Complaining of bullying in the international justice arena, African leaders are forging ahead with plans to set up their own regional court — and give themselves immunity in the process.

The African Union (AU) accuses the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) of anti-African bias and even racism, and plans for a home-grown mechanism are inflaming a stand-off over who deals out justice on the continent.

In a decision last month, AU leaders unanimously agreed to grant sitting heads of state and senior government officials immunity from prosecution at the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is not expected to get off the ground for several years. Source

 This would grant immunity to the likes of Omar al-Bashir and Uhuru Kenyatta. It would obviously be a huge step back for human rights in the continent, and prove once more that the African Union is failing to bring democracy to the continent.
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Cote d’Ivoire: the fight against impunity at a crossroad

“Progress by the Ivorian judiciary up to now has not been sufficient to leave hope that in the near future a major trial will be held on the post-electoral crisis under acceptable conditions”, said Mr. Patrick Baudouin, Honorary President, and head of the Legal Action Group that defends victims at FIDH. “The inquiries and judicial procedures need to be much better balanced to ensure the right to truth, justice and reparation for all the victims” he added.

Despite an openly declared intention, the process for fighting impunity seems to be marked by the lack of prosecution of crime perpetrators who supported Alassane Ouattara during the crisis. This is especially flagrant since the proceedings against the Gbagbo supporters are progressing.

Read the full report from FIDH below:

Cotedivoire617UK2013basdef by FIDH_ngo

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Truths and Myths: Kenya and the International Criminal Court

In the midst of all the African Union debates around the ICC trials, Amnesty International published Perceptions and Realities: Kenya and the International Criminal Court.

Chosen extract:

Perception: Kenyans elected Kenyatta and Ruto and this means they just want to “move on.” Kenyans no longer support the ICC.

Reality: Although Kenyatta and Ruto campaigned on pledges to continue their cooperation with the ICC, their campaign rhetoric also painted the ICC as a tool of Western imperialism. Since taking office the Kenyatta government has actively courted the support of other African leaders to undermine the ICC. It has also ignored threats against human rights defenders and journalists that appear to be linked to their perceived association with the ICC. Authorities in some areas have pressed people to “move on.”

In this context and with the passage of time since crimes were committed it is not surprising that views about the ICC process have become increasingly polarized among Kenyans and that polls have shown a drop in support for the ICC. The ICC process itself has suffered setbacks. Some witnesses have become unwilling to testify, including some who have cited security concerns, which may have undermined confidence that the ICC cases can produce justice for the post-election violence.

However, serious crimes were committed in 2007-2008 and, in the vast majority of cases, those responsible have yet to be held to account. As one Kikuyu elder told Human Rights Watch in advance of the March 2013 elections:

I see people who killed my relatives, raped my cousin, destroyed my property. They have not been arrested and tried. They have not apologized for what they did. How do you expect me to just accept that and move on?

 The Kenyatta and Ruto case reaches much deeper than these two individuals, it will impact the ICC jurisdiction and let’s say it, justice and impunity in Africa.

The African Union reputation is at stake as well. It will lose all its credibility to African people and international community if they keep refuting the ICC’s decisions. I would be interested to see what the previous Chairmen, Ping and Konare have to say about this.

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“The badge of shame” – Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan ICC

“On a continent that has experienced deadly conflict, gross violations of human rights, even genocide, I am surprised to hear critics ask whether the pursuit of justice might obstruct the search for peace,” Annan told a packed University of the Western Cape main hall.

Annan said justice and peace were interlinked, and one could not be achieved without the other.

“We must be ambitious enough to pursue both, and wise enough to recognise, respect and protect the independence of justice,” he said.

“And we must always have the courage to ask ourselves ‘who speaks for the victims’?”

Annan bemoaned the fact that “the victims of the worst crimes” in Africa had been failed due to inaction against the perpetrators.

[…]

“If African victims can get justice at home and we have credible courts and they do take action there’ll be no need for [the] ICC,” Annan said.

Source

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The stake in Simone and Laurent Gbagbo indictment

From Treat Greed in Africa as a War Crime, by Kamari Maxine Clarke.

The indictments of the Gbagbos are welcome, but they don’t bring the court any closer to confronting the fundamental causes of the violence that has plagued Ivory Coast — and most of sub-Saharan African — for centuries. Colonial rule, and the military takeovers and suppression of democratic movements that followed it, have contributed enormously to the misery. But even those legacies are not the root cause.

Violence in Africa begins with greed — the discovery and extraction of natural resources like oil, diamonds and gas — and continues to be fed by struggles for control of energy, minerals, food and other commodities. The court needs the power to punish those who profit from those struggles.

[…]

For all its deficiencies, the I.C.C. — which in 10 years has achieved just a single conviction, that of a Congolese warlord last year — has a global reach and responsibility as the world’s first permanent war-crimes tribunal. Holding government officials and their inner circles accountable is a step toward justice, but the pursuit cannot end there. The Gbagbos, however heinous their alleged crimes, were ultimately figureheads in a vast and unregulated system of extractive capitalism.

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Gbagbo to get legal help from the International Criminal Court

Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo will get legal aid while his financial status is assessed, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said Saturday.

His defence costs to date will be covered by the ICC’s legal aid, said a statement from the court’s clerk, after his defence team said they had no resources with which to conduct his defence.

During a hearing on December 14, lawyer Emmanuel Altit, for Gbagbo, told the court that they did not have the means to do their job.

“At this moment, we do have no office, no computer, no access to the Court’s computer system, no funding,” he said.

The financial aid granted by the court will however only cover the preliminary stages of the case pending an investigation into Gbagbo’s financial status, after which it would be reassessed, the clerk’s statement said.

Full article here.

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