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)
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid