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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid