WINDHOEK – Last weekend African Heads of State convened a special session under the African Union (AU) to discuss the AU’s relations with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
African leaders then resolved not to allow a sitting Head of State to be prosecuted by an international tribunal and hope to halt the trial of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, which is about to begin in The Hague, Netherlands. The Hague wants to charge Kenyatta for “crimes against humanity”.
The public do have mixed feelings, with some saying the ICC is biased against Africans and should be done away with, while others argue that the credibility of the ICC, as well as its necessity as an institution, should not be undermined. New Era took to the streets to gauge the public view.
“Geographically, the court’s first cases involved situations on the African continent, but it is simplistic to argue that the ICC is ‘unfairly’ targeting Africa. A quick look at the cases shows that the majority of cases before the ICC are there because the state in question self-referred the situation to the ICC. Furthermore, the prosecutor’s decision to investigate each of these situations has been taken within the constraints laid down by the Rome Statute.”
“I blame African countries in the first place for being part of the ICC. In fact, I believe the ICC was created to prosecute leaders from the third world. Let us face it, currently all the cases are against African countries. The biggest question I have is when will President George W. Bush stand trial in the ICC for his Iraqi war? Until proven otherwise ICC is part of the first world’s neo-colonialism plan.”
“Morally, African leaders’ complaints about the ICC are plausible. But this does not take away the legitimacy and necessity of the ICC, particularly for ordinary African citizens who are continually victims at the hands of their own leaders. In light of the apparent weakness of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Africans need the ICC. Making the ICC fair is a legitimate but separate issue.”
Asteria Nangula Ndjendja
“They are biased. I think the membership of the ICC should be mandatory to membership of the UN! If you look at the number of countries that have ratified the ICC in the world it is 121, including 34 in Africa. The cases being investigated so far – in countries like the Central African Republic, Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Uganda, DR Congo, Ivory Coast and Mali – are all in African countries. What would one say about that? Until the likes of the USA, UK, Russia and China join the ICC and it prosecutes the real war criminals, the ICC will never be regarded as being fair.”
“The ICC is honestly biased towards our African leaders. If that court was honourable enough, it could have prosecuted some western leaders who perpetrated war against other countries and killed thousands of innocent souls. Africa must stand firm and nullify the recognition of this court. African leaders must learn to solve African issues on their own.”
“The ICC with their selective trial and stand approach is undermining the sovereignty of African States – this sets back national reconciliation and nation building let alone the realisation of the African dream. The ICC should be consistent in fulfilling its mandate and not be selective to ensure justice for all. The African leaders’ position is legitimate.”
By Tonateni Shidhudhu