News / Africa

African Union Says ICC Prosecutions Are Discriminatory

Fatou Bensouda (C) Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, speaks in Abidjan after her meeting with Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara, June 28, 2011 (file photo)
Fatou Bensouda (C) Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, speaks in Abidjan after her meeting with Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara, June 28, 2011 (file photo)

The African Union says it will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Some African leaders mistrust the international court.

The African Union said the arrest warrant against the Libyan leader “seriously complicates” its efforts to find a solution to the conflict.

AU Commissioner Jean Ping said the court is “discriminatory” because it only goes after crimes committed in Africa while ignoring crimes by Western powers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Gambian jurist Fatou Bensouda, a deputy prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, said Africa's argument against the ICC ignores how many Africans have reached out to the court.

“Anytime I hear this about ICC targeting Africa, ICC doing double justice, it saddens me, especially as an African woman, also knowing that these conflicts, most of these conflicts are happening on the continent of Africa,” she said.

Bensouda said trials of Africans are for Africans because the alleged victims are Africans.

"We say that ICC is targeting Africans, but all of the victims in our cases in Africa are African victims. They are not from another continent.  They are African victims and they are the ones who are suffering these crimes," said Bensouda.

The ICC says warrants against the Libyan leader and his son are for crimes against humanity and are meant to ensure that they are brought before the court so they “do not continue to obstruct and endanger the court's investigations.”

In urging its members to disregard the warrants, the African Union again showed how much many of its leaders mistrust the court. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir nearly a year ago, yet he has traveled freely on the continent.

The argument that the court is politically motivated in singling out African leaders was taken up by defense attorney Courtenay Griffiths at the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor earlier this year.

"We submit that it is to the shame of this prosecution that it has besmirched the lofty ideals of international criminal law by turning this case into a 21st century form of neocolonialism. And, I am not apologizing for saying that," said Griffiths.

Griffiths said the International Criminal Court has shown its bias in trying Taylor.

“His trial has been trumpeted by the prosecution as demonstrating an end to impunity. We agree. Indeed, his trial is of importance to Africa and this evolving concept of international justice to which we are, as a defense, unswervingly committed. Yet we note that currently everyone being tried or awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court are from, guess where - Africa. We are disturbed by this,” said Griffiths.

Chief prosecutor Brenda Hollis reminded Griffiths that it was the government in Freetown that asked for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  Hollis said there is a “perverse sort of logic” in Africa's argument against the ICC.

"And, the logic seems to be that unless the heads of African states will create courts or can create courts to punish crimes within their country, even crimes that offend everyone of us as members of the global community, unless they do that, the rest of the world should simply butt out," said Hollis. "Because if they don't do it, then these victims should be left without justice. Somehow they deserve lesser justice. We suggest to you that is not the case."

Taylor is the first African head of state to be tried in person. A verdict in his case is expected later this year.

Thirty-one of Africa's 53 nations are signatories to the Rome Statute establishing the court's authority. That is nearly one-third of the countries where the ICC has jurisdiction. So, if they all disregard the Gadhafi warrant, that further limits the court's reach.

Deputy prosecutor Bensouda said blocking the court protects the abuse of power.

"Why don't we look at the positive side? Why don't we look at the fact that African leaders are taking leadership in international criminal justice? Why don't we say ICC is targeting those who target Africans? Because that is what we are doing," said Bensouda.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said it is not the court that decided to investigate Moammar Gadhafi. That decision came from a unanimous resolution of the United Nations Security Council, on which Nigeria, Gabon and South Africa currently sit.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Arab-Israeli Cease-Fire

Top officials from the US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gather in Paris, while Israel security forces continue searching for tunnels used by militants and Gazan rescue workers search for bodies More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid