Windhoek – The Office of the President has kept mute on whether the country – just like its southern neighbour, South Africa – will withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is perceived by many Africans as being biased against leaders of the continent.
However, presidential press secretary Albertus Aochamub yesterday said the country would pronounce itself on the matter only once all procedures have been followed.
“We will comment as soon as we have followed all the due processes,” Aochamub said.
South Africa last week said it is withdrawing from the ICC, making it the second African country this week – after Burundi – to move to leave the tribunal that pursues perpetrators of the world’s worst atrocities. Kenya has in the past also raised the possibility of leaving the ICC.
Also, South Africa last year allowed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country, despite two pending warrants from the ICC for his arrest. The ICC issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010, but he has long rejected the court’s authority.
President Hage Geingob last year also called on African countries to consider withdrawing from the ICC, saying it had become an “abomination” and was not fulfilling its mandate.
“Some people are saying we’re the ones who created the ICC. However, when one creates something to be an asset, but later on it becomes an abomination, you have the right to quit it since it has ceased serving its intended purpose,” Geingob was quoted as saying at the time.
To date only African leaders have been charged by the ICC, with six cases that are currently ongoing, or about to begin, although preliminary ICC investigations have been opened elsewhere in the world.
One such case that caused considerable resentment among African leaders was the ICC’s dogged pursuit of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for his alleged role in the deadly violence that erupted after his country’s 2007 presidential election.
The ICC case against Kenyatta later collapsed amid prosecution claims of interference with witnesses and non-cooperation by Kenyan authorities.
The African Union has meanwhile called for immunity from prosecution for sitting heads of state. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at his inauguration in May – with al-Bashir in attendance – went as far as saying the ICC is “useless”.