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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid