THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT TARGETS AFRICAN LEARDERS
By: Nontobeko Mlambo
The International Criminal Court (ICC), was established to hold those responsible for the crimes against humanity and for them to be liable of their crimes.
Over the years critics have argued that it targets and picks only on African leaders. Some argue that the ICC has interfered with efforts to bring about peace in unstable and under developed African
Governed by the Roman statue, it is the first treaty based permanent international court.
All situations and cases under investigation or prosecution by the ICC are currently in Africa.
This has raised concerns in some African state members and raises the question about the ICC’s intentions and target.
“There are many injustices and crimes of humanity committed by the West in countries like Syria and Iraq and the ICC is simply not taking any action.
No one is above the Law and all injustices should be investigated whether they are wealthy and powerful states or not,” says Carol Magubane, who is an Attorney at Ledwaba Sam Incorporated in Rivonia, Sandton.
The Office of the Prosecutor in the ICC was established in 2002 and Since its establishment the ICC has investigated eight cases and all of them involve alleged violation of International
Criminal Law and all these investigations relate to African Countries like Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur (in Sudan), and many more.
The court has seen leaders like Maummar Gaddafi, who is the former president of Lybia and his son Saif al-Islam, indicted for crimes against humanity with regard to the situation in
Libya which saw hundreds of civilians murdered.
The Office of the Prosecutor in the ICC has received information on alleged abuses in other parts of the world, such as Iraq, Venezuela, Palestine, Colombia, and Afghanistan but there
have not been any investigations open into those situations.
The office has kept them under preliminary examination in order to determine whether to proceed with investigations or not.
“Every one of the individuals indicted by the court so far is African, even though there are a number of conflicts within the continent it still seems a little unfair,” added Magubane.
The ICC relies entirely on countries to execute arrest warrants, to produce evidence and to facilitate the appearance of witnesses as they have no police for of their own.
“The ICC does not go looking for African countries to be investigated even though a large number of them are from the continent, most of the countries are referred to the ICC by the
United Nations and some simple ask for the court’s assistant, so one cannot really say they target African leaders only,” explained Roger Ngele, who is a Senior Attorney and has been a
practising lawyer for over 8 years at Ledwaba Sam Incorporated.
Some of the Investigations into African situations have been opened at the request or with the support of African states. Some of the investigations are before the ICC because of those
countries’ inability or unwillingness on the part of the State concerned to properly investigate and prosecute those cases.
There was a huge controversy when Omar Al Bashir who is the president of Sudan attended the African Union conference in South Africa and the South African government did not
Al Bashir is wanted by the ICC for the war crimes and crimes against humanity which were allegedly committed in Darfur in Sudan where the United Nations estimates that
over 300 000 people have died since 2003.
While the South African High Court was hearing an application that would have forced the government to arrest he Al Bashir flew back to Sudan from a military airport just outside
There were mixed reactions when President Zuma went to a conference in China last week and was seen shaking hands with President Al Bashir. Does this mean that African leaders
should not have a relationship and speak to each other whenever they wish to?
Some people would argue that the west should not dictate African politics and relations within them.
Those in position of power must safe guard the fundamental human rights of civilians caught in conflicts. The African continent needs education, democracy and development and only then can justice truly help prevent the crimes of the future.