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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora