News / Africa

    Civil Society Groups: Support Justice for Gravest Crimes

    International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo  (file photo)
    International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (file photo)

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua

    Civil society groups are urging African nations to show support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the AU summit in Equatorial Guinea.

    Some 125 organizations in more than 25 African countries issued a report Monday called Observations and Recommendations on the ICC. It calls on African member countries of the ICC to “support justice for the gravest crimes.”

    The AU, however, has called for a delay in the ICC prosecution of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It has also called for a delay of an investigation into Kenya’s post-election violence. That has stirred some controversy. Now, the ICC has issued arrest warrants for another African leader, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

    ICC and Africa

    “I think African civil society takes very seriously the responsibility that many of us feel to protect victims of serious international crimes and to drive an initiative to promote accountability and an end for impunity for these crimes,” said Anton du Plessis of the International Crime in Africa Program at South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.

    African civil society has voiced its support for the ICC on previous occasions, as well.

    “It’s not the ICC itself that these African civil society groups are supporting. It’s just a continental effort to end impunity for these crimes that ravage the continent so regularly and in such devastating ways,” he said.

    Accountability

    The report, in part, gives the groups a voice in calling for justice.

    Du Plessis said, “The question of accountability for these crimes is not something which is completely controlled by the governments themselves. That civil society do own some of the space and are very interested in making sure that African governments stick to the commitments, which they themselves proclaim as part of the African Union, particularly Article 4H of the AU Constitutive Act.”

    In part, that article calls for “respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance” and “respect for the sanctity of human life, condemnation and rejection of impunity and political assassination, acts of terrorism and subversive activities.”

    AU

    “I think when we speak of Africa or the AU we need to remember that African states were at the forefront of creating the International Criminal Court. Currently, Africa is the biggest regional block represented on the ICC, with, I think, 32 African states as parties to the treaty. And African countries, many of them, have fought their own human rights struggles and have set very important precedents internationally as human rights defenders,” he said.

    Du Plessis said there may be a perception of an AU “backlash” against the court.

    “Of course, Africa has been on the receiving end of international criminal justice with seven situations currently before the ICC at this stage,” he said.

    African governments themselves had asked the ICC to act in most of those cases, for example in the DRC and Uganda.  But the arrest warrants for President al-Bashir have caused some tension between the AU and the international community. Reaction regarding Mr. Gadhafi is just beginning.

    Justice can move slowly

    “Libya and Sudan are interesting situations because both of those were actually referred to the International Criminal Court by the U.N. Security Council because they were considered by the council to threats to international peace and security,” he said.

    In both cases, the ICC wants to prosecute sitting heads of state.

    “That is essentially where serious issues of sovereignty come into play and also the traditional notions of heads of state immunity are questioned. So, these two decisions by the Security Council have created a lot of disquiet in Africa, particularly on the role of the International Criminal Court,” he said.

    Du Plessis does not expect a quick solution to these matters.

    “Justice for these crimes does take time and don’t think we should have too many expectations that this will be handled in a matter of months. I think that’s one thing to recognize. The second one is that international criminal justice plays itself out in an incredibly complex and ever changing political environment. And that political environment needs sensitive navigation,” he said.

    The indictment of President al-Bashir in 2002, he said, is an example of that.

    “We just never know where things are going to be down the line after the arrest warrant today was issued for Ghadafi, but as international criminal justice has shown in the cases of others…that justice is patient and it’s vitally important that we don’t try and rush the process too much at this stage, he said.

    The civil society report also calls on African ICC states “to ensure the election at the end of 2011 of the most qualified candidate as the next ICC prosecutor through a fair and merit-based process.”

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.