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Critics say ICC’s focus on African leaders inappropriate


Critics of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) actions in Africa are of the view that ICC may have been set up only to tackle Africa, asserting that the actions of the agency appear unfair to the African continent, adding that the ICC is discriminating in its selection practices.

Saturday Vanguard’s investigations into the issue revealed that the agency may have been acting under bias condition, otherwise, why should a good number of notable critics accuse the ICC of acting immorally by discriminating against Africa and Africans in deciding which situations or not to investigate and prosecute.

African Heads of State at the AU summit in South Africa

Furthermore, this large numbers decisions provide a seemingly sufficient argument why all situations and cases under investigation or prosecution by the ICC are basically in Africa, while many others argue that the ICC’s work has interfered with efforts to realising peace in the African continent.

According to report, since the establishment of ICC in 2002, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC has investigated about 8 situations involving alleged violations of international criminal law.

It disclosed that each of these investigations relate to situation in Africa and often dissatisfying.

In addition, report stated that the OTP has received information on alleged abuses in other parts of the world, such as Iraq, Venezuela, Palestine, Colombia, and Afghanistan, and has decided not to open investigations into those situations or has kept them under preliminary examination.

Similarly, critics note that the OTP has yet to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in a territory or by nationals of States that are wealthy and powerful and argue that the failure to do so has contributed to dampening support for the ICC from African countries, as they give the impression that the agency is partisan.

Many wondered reasons OTP have opened investigations only in Africa, even as many situations of concern simply do not fall within the ICC’s jurisdiction.

In other words, many are of the view that the ICC actions appear inappropriately unfair to Africa, otherwise, it should provide sound reasons and justification for why all of the situations currently under investigation or prosecution happen to be in Africa.

Although the agency’s investigations into African situations were opened at the request or with the support of African states and or self-referred, critics still maintained the agency is biased in its actions.

Most recently, Mali referred to the ICC the crimes occurring on its own territory and this was supported by ECOWAS.

True talk that Africa does not want to uphold atrocities, but the situations involving African countries investigations by ICC’s OTP may have gingered the drama involving Sudanese President Omar al Bashir’s arrest warrant.


Bashir, who came to power in 1989, became the first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC.

The court issued an arrest warrant for him on March 4, 2009, for war crimes committed during the civil war in Darfur before the referendum that divided Sudan and South Sudan.

Bashir was attending African Union talks in South Africa when a local court issued an interim order stopping him from leaving the country until it hears application for his arrest.

He is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.

He reportedly defied the court order and left South Africa despite two pending warrants from the international criminal court for his arrest, following which a high court in Johannesburg mandated the South African government to file an affidavit explaining how president Bashir left the country.

His action raised ripples, leaving many accusing the South African government of defying a court order and violating its own constitution and others portraying the ICC as an instrument of Western imperialism.

Notably, President Bashir was in South Africa at the invitation of the AU, which does not have sanctions over him and arresting him would amount to weakening and dividing the AU.

In other words, arresting him would have simply implied that African Heads of state and governments are unable, and or unwilling to protect the AU when necessary.

And by comparison, the US government does not arrest foreign Heads of State and Government, even when it has sanctions over them when they attend the UN General Assembly.

For a fact, such action, without doubt, is capable of weakening and eventually destroying the UN where they do so.

Meanwhile many have condemned Botswana government for saying that Bashir should be arrested and handed over to the ICC, asking why the ICC is unfairly targeting black presidents and no one has been arrested for war crimes in Iraq and so on.

Those familiar with the situation on ground posited that Africa’s hatred for the West may be deepening by the day, hence the decision to allow Sudanese president accused of war crimes to ignore the ICC arrest warrant.

Bashir had travelled to South Africa for an African Union summit chaired by Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, who has urged African leaders to pull out of the ICC.

African states accuse the court, which is based in The Hague, of only targeting political leaders on their continent and failing to bring those responsible for war crimes in the Middle East and elsewhere to justice.

However, the Sudanese officials reportedly stated that the court order had no value because Bashir was invited by the South African government, saying that claim that the South African government has shamefully flouted ICC and domestic court to free man wanted for mass murder of Africans, is inconsequential.

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