International Criminal Court Under Fire In Africa

International Criminal Court Under Fire In Africa

Several nations in the 54-member African Union have accused the Hague-based International Criminal Court of singling out Africans for prosecution, and demanded the court drop proceedings against Kenya’s leadership, according to a BusinessStandard report.

Ethiopia, which holds the rotating presidency for the A.U., opened a special A.U. summit today with a scathing attack on the tribunal, saying its treatment of Africa was “unfair” and “totally unacceptable.”

Tensions have mounted between the ICC and Kenya, whose president and vice-president were charged with crimes against humanity for allegedly masterminding a vicious campaign of ethnic violence after disputed 2007 elections.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told ministers and delegates,
“The court has transformed itself into a political instrument. This unfair and unjust,” he said of the ICC, the world’s first permanent court to try genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A Zimbabwean government official said today his country supports calls for African states to cut ties with the ICC.

African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties to have ratified the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, which took effect on July 1, 2002. Zimbabwe never signed the Rome Statute. A mass pull-out from the court – as some countries have demanded – could seriously damage the institution, the report said.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti said, “African countries have their own mechanisms of justice and they prove to be good, better than the European ones.”

The A.U., however, appears divided on the issue. Countries like Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Rwanda are taking a tough line. Other nations seem reluctant to get embroiled in a diplomatic confrontation. Some prominent African figures are lobbying hard against a pull-out.

South African anti-apartheid icon and Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu fired off a sharply-worded attack that compared ICC opponents to Nazis seeking to evade justice, and argued the number of African cases was merely a reflection on the dismal human rights record of many of the continent’s governments.