African Countries Threaten Mass Walkout From ICC

African Countries Threaten Mass Walkout From ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) risk a massive walkout by African countries if it does not change its unrelenting focus on the continent, the African Union (AU) has warned.

Kenya and South Africa are lobbying other African members — who form the largest group signed to the Rome Statute that formed the ICC — to walk out of the Hague-based court if it does not give them more freedom to interpret its rules.

“We have arrived at the conclusion that the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose establishment was strongly supported by Africa… is no longer a court for all,” AFP quoted Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying.

Ghebreyesus was speaking on behalf of the AU at the 14th session of the Assembly of States Parties, an annual meeting between the 123 countries that have signed up to the Hague-based ICC’s founding statute..

Kenya has had a long standing case at the ICC over the 2007/08 post election violence that killed more than1,200 people and displaced thousands others. The countries President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are among the four people charges at the international court for crimes against humanity.

While Ruto’s case is still ongoing, Uhuru was let off after the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda failed to get enough evidence against him.

Bensouda has accused the Kenyan suspects of intimidating witnesses. Many of witnesses in the Kenyan case have recanted statements they gave before Uhuru and Ruto came to power in March 2013 presidential election.

South Africa has been under fire from the court for failing to arrest Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir in June this year when he attended the AU summit in Johannesburg.

Bashir’s attempted arrest in Johannesburg overshadowed the summit and some leaders said they were “humiliated” by the whole saga.

“All of us felt totally humiliated in June in Johannesburg,” Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told Reuters.

“We weren’t allowed to focus on the issues that were important to the continent – peace, security, Burundi, Somalia, Mali. Totally distracted by this ‘arrest the president’ movement.”

The Sudanese President is the only head of state in the world wanted by the ICC on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity charges committed during the Darfur conflict.

African leaders have accused the ICC, which is largely funded by European nations, for only targeting countries from the continent.

South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Africa had lost had lost confidence in the court because it was dispensing  a “one-sided justice”.