While powering sharing
talks between the ruling and opposition parties continue in Zimbabwe, an effort
is underway to bring President Mugabe before the International Criminal Court.
The ENOUGH Project has issued a report outlining the legal options that could
be taken against Mr. Mugabe.
One of the authors of the report is Syracuse
University law professor David Crane, who is the former chief prosecutor for
the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. He spoke to VOA English to Africa
Service reporter Joe De Capua, who asked whether it's feasible to take legal
action against President Mugabe while political talks continue.
absolutely. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe can and should be prosecuted
for the crimes against humanity perpetrated against his people since 1981. And
we're looking at over tens of thousands of his own citizens, which he has
allegedly murdered. This is a very important time for Africa. We see (Sudanese
President) Bashir possibly indicted and we see the example of (former Bosnian
Serb leader Radovan) Karadzic being found after well over 10 years being on the
run. Robert Mugabe is seeing all this…. He sees former president Taylor of
Liberia sitting in the dock for being tried for war crimes and crimes against
humanity and he's beginning to hear footsteps," he says.
says the Zimbabwean leader realizes he needs to take action to avoid being on
trial himself. "So, not surprisingly, he's willing to sit down with the very
opposition that he was trying to kill just five weeks ago," he says.
law professor says there are a number of charges that could be filed against
Mr. Mugabe: "Certainly, Article 7 of the Rome Statute, related to crimes against
humanity, is illustrative of the types of crimes that he has perpetrated
against his own people. And these are the areas that we would certainly be
considering when we were investigating and possibly drafting charges against
him. Things like persecution, imprisonment and other severe deprivation of
personal liberty, as well as inhumane acts that intentionally cause great
suffering, all pursuant to a state policy," he says.
legal case against President Mugabe is laid out in a paper from the ENOUGH Project
and Impunity Watch called Justice for Zimbabwe, which Crane co-authored. It's
available at www.enoughproject.org
whether he thinks the international community could unite to take such strong
action against the Zimbabwean leader, he says, "It boils down to a political
decision. The justice part, the legal part is manifest and can be done. But it
all boils down to that bright red threat in all of this called politics. It'll
be a political decision, particularly by the African Union, particularly by
regional leaders, such as Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, to realize that African
leaders who destroy their own citizens have to be held accountable."
white paper says, "It is realistic to consider an amnesty or a type of immunity
arrangement (under threat of indictment) is Mugabe agrees to step aside and
leave Zimbabwe for good." Crane explains, "You have to be realistic related to
his age. He is well into his 80s. The probability of him living to be not only
indicted and prosecuted, you know, there's an actuarial issue there.…
Realistically, I'm not sure if President Mugabe would live long enough to
actually see the end of his trial."
He says one the issue of how to deal
with Mr. Mugabe is addressed, new elections could be held. After that, it would
be time to look into prosecuting those he calls Mugabe's "henchmen."