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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid