The International Criminal Court in The Hague is investigating cases of human rights abuse in three countries in Africa. The governments of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have asked the court to investigate violations alleged to have taken place during several years of factional violence and civil war in each country.
The Hague-based court is also investigating massacres in Sudan’s western province of Darfur at the request of the United Nations Security Council.
Sudan has already set up a judicial body – the Darfur Special Criminal Court -- to try some of the accused. The deputy prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, told Voice of America reporter William Eagle that the international court is not in conflict with the Sudanese effort: “If the government of Sudan is prosecuting the same cases as we are, and prosecuting them genuinely, of course, the ICC will take the back [seat]. The ICC is not a court of first instance, [but one which] comes in only when the state that is responsible is either unable or unwilling to prosecute those crimes. “
Today, the court is also analyzing a request made in recent months by the Central African Republic to look into abuses starting before a coup three years ago that brought army general Francois Bozize to power. According to Bensouda, “the prosecutor, before announcing that he is commencing any investigation anywhere, has to collect the evidence, look at the information … analyze [it], decide whether it reaches the gravity threshold, and then go to the pre-trial chamber, [be granted] authority and then announce that we will be opening an investigation in a [given] case. Right now, we are analyzing the collections we have with respect to the CAR and the office will decide as soon as we know whether we want to proceed with that case. It’s a decision t hat needs to be taken after proper analysis.”
Bensouda says African countries make up 27 of the ICC's 100 member states.