News / Africa

Rwanda Challenges ICC Role as Court Marks 15 Years

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto (C) sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, May 14, 2013.
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto (C) sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, May 14, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
Rwanda’s justice minister says the International Criminal Court only delivers “selective justice” - mostly targeting African leaders. His comments come as the world marks the 15th anniversary of the statute that established the court. Some are questioning whether Africa still needs the ICC, as discontent with the institution grows.

On July 17, 1998, delegates at an international conference in Rome voted to form the so-called “court of last resort” to try perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and other major offenses where local courts were unable or unwilling to act.

Today the International Criminal Court - based in The Hague - has cases involving eight African countries including Kenya, Sudan and Ivory Coast.

Rwanda is one of the countries never to sign the Rome Statute, and remains one of the strongest critics of the court’s activities.

Justice minister defends Rwanda

Rwandan Justice Minister Johnston Busingye told VOA that while Rwanda supports the concept of international justice, he feels the ICC has unfairly targeted Africans.

“Africa seems to be taking the lion’s share of the ICC, for example, in the last one decade or so. So our position has really been this kind of justice is selective, and we do not want to have international justice being used as a tool, or being perceived as a tool to control Africa,” said Busingye.

When Rwanda was confronted with bringing justice to the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide it pursued two paths. One was the establishment of a U.N.-backed international tribunal to try suspected criminals. The other was a community-based system of so-called gacaca courts.

Busingye said the international court, where trials still are ongoing, has fallen short of its potential of holding the ringleaders of genocide accountable.
 
But Busingye said, “By and large, gacaca delivered immensely, in terms of number we have delivered on about 1.5 million cases that we probably would never have dealt with,” said .

Human rights groups states its case

Human rights groups say that while the gacaca courts did speed up trials of an enormous number of cases, they fell far short of international legal standards.

Across the continent, support for the ICC is waning as former supporters of the court now have turned their backs on The Hague.

In May, the African Union voted to refer back to Kenya the case against that country’s president and his deputy for deadly violence that followed the 2007 presidential election. AU Chairman and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn accused the court of “race hunting.”

The ICC denies it is targeting any one region or ethnicity, saying decisions on cases are based on the law, available evidence and where national courts have not taken action.  

While some African leaders may be worried they could be next to appear in at The Hague, the real point of the court is to protect the victims of violence where domestic courts have failed, according to Leslie Haskell, counsel for the International Justice program at Human Rights Watch.

“People often don’t talk about the fact that the ICC and the court is meant to provide justice to victims and the fact that the court only gets involved when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute,” said Haskell.

Changing mood

Discontent is not limited to African leadership. A poll of Kenyan citizens published last week showed only 39 percent want the trials against Kenya’s leaders to remain at The Hague, while the rest would prefer they return to Kenya, or be dropped altogether.

Stephen Musau, chair of the Rights Promotion and Protection Center in Kenya, said despite the mood of the country, the fact remains that Kenya so far has failed to bring the perpetrators of the post-election violence to justice.

“The failure is what led us to the ICC and that failure cannot be blamed on Kenyans. It is the state machinery, which failed to show the way in terms of how we deal with these issues and because we failed in that, we are supporting the ICC,” said Musau.

Not surprisingly, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have led a major lobbying effort against the ICC. Their trials at the court begin later this year.

But it was in Kenya, after the disputed election, where the phrase was coined: “Don’t be vague, let’s go to The Hague.” It is clear now that tune has changed.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Leslie Haskell
July 25, 2013 11:07 AM
Yes the ICC system is selective and the Hague knows that well.
"Spin Doctoring" it is called. The Hague must not be vague.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid