Opinion: Is The International Criminal Court Biased Against African Leaders?

Opinion: Is The International Criminal Court Biased Against African Leaders?

From IrishTimes. Opinion by Bill Corcoran.

A number of African presidents have suggested a new continental court is required for dealing with regional leaders accused of serious abuse of power, instead of the International Criminal Court.

But the arguments sound insincere in light of the current situation in Burundi, where a presidential election is set to take place today.

Comments such as a recent one by Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita – it is “up to Africans, not Europeans or Americans, to judge their leaders” – are regularly trotted out by African Union heads of state who say the ICC is biased against them.

Keita’s remarks were prompted by the row that erupted when South Africa’s government disregarded a local high-court order to detain Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir in early June, when he was in Johannesburg for an A.U. summit.

Until now, African leaders have never judged their own. However, the trial scheduled to begin yesterday of Chad’s former dictator, Hissene Habre, in Senegal, over his regime’s brutality is about to change that.

Rights groups say 40,000 people died during Habre’s seven-year reign. He will be tried by the Extraordinary African Chambers, a special court established by the A.U. under an agreement with Senegal.

This test case for African justice will attract global attention, as a regionally run court with a mandate similar to the ICC’s is ultimately desirable. But despite Habre’s trial, Africa’s recent history at holding leaders to account does not inspire confidence the A.U. can be effective in policing its own.

Read more at IrishTimes.