Africa must withdraw from ICC

Many years after Africa unshackled itself from the clutches of colonial thuggery, the West continues to believe that it understands Africa better than Africans themselves. They have convinced themselves that they know better than Africans themselves what is in the best interest of Africa.

In 2005, one French thug Jacques Chirac had the audacity to tell Thabo Mbeki, who was leading peace efforts in Cote d'Ivoire, that he lacked understanding of the soul and mentality of Africans in West Africa. Chirac was expressing the colonial arrogance with which the West has always responded to Africa and continues to do so. It is the absurd belief that Africans are devoid of the capacity to make the best choices for themselves without guidance of their former colonial sodomisers.

The legion of Roman thugs destroyed the ancient African city of Carthage. Cato the Elder was clear - "Carthage must be destroyed!" Today the destruction of the soul of Africa is not expressed in such explicit terms as the Romans did. Veiled interference in the affairs of Africa under the false guise of advancing universal values of human rights and democracy is the new norm. International institutions like the International Criminal Court (ICC), the World Bank and the IMF are vehicles through which former colonial masters continue to do to Africa what Cato the Elder wished upon the ancient city of Carthage.

At the moment, a fierce debate is raging around the relationship between Africa and the ICC. The prevailing sentiment in Africa is that the ICC specifically targets African leaders with much vigour, while turning a blind eye to atrocities and other crimes committed by powerful nations of the West and their close allies.

African leaders are expressing a grave concern over the manner in which the ICC is executing its mandate in response to most serious crimes of international concern. Two sitting African presidents from Sudan and Kenya are facing charges at The Hague, in spite of the national law and international customary law, by which sitting heads of state and government are granted immunity during their tenure of office.

An argument has been advanced that there have been instances of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Africa which required the intervention of the ICC on the basis that the judiciary in countries where these crimes are committed lacked the willingness or capacity to prosecute. It may very well be true that the judiciary in some African countries is inadequate, lacks fairness and would not necessarily advance the course of justice. But equally we can contest that such interventions may be premised on other nefarious motives. In the case of Kenya, the ICC prosecutor established for whatever reason that the state was unwilling to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of alleged crimes against humanity arising from post-election violence of 2008 and he decided to intervene.

It is commendable that the ICC would initiate an investigation that ultimately leads to perpetrators of crimes against humanity being charged and prosecuted. However, the issue of fairness of the ICC in the administration of international justices arises when the Kenyan case is juxtaposed with other crimes of international concern, in particular, war crimes committed during the illegal invasion of Iraq by western warlords.

In the same year that the ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo decided to launch an investigation on alleged crimes against humanity in Kenya, he rejected vociferous calls to investigate war crimes committed in Iraq by coalition forces led by the US. About 1,000 civilians were killed in post-election violence and close to 200,000 were slaughtered, directly or indirectly, by coalition forces over a period of ten years in Iraq. The scale and the ferocity of the alleged crimes in these two instances are incomparable. The UK, which is a signatory to the Rome Statute, was instrumental in the illegal invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and set the course for the mass extermination of ordinary people of Iraq. The British government made no attempt to open an investigation against Tony Blair who was the Prime Minster presiding over unlawful decisions on Iraq. Is this not what Kenya is accused of? This is the same argument that Moreno-Ocampo used as the basis for his selective investigation against Kenyan leaders and that has exposed the lack of impartiality and credibility on the ICC's part.

The ICC not only rejected calls to investigate crimes against humanity that were perpetrated by apartheid-Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza, they also rejected the proposal by the African Union that the cases against Kenyan leaders be tried in courts of this east African nation. In the meantime, the same ICC deemed it fit to defer the case against the Gaddafi-era intelligence chief Abdallah al-Senussi to the Libyan judiciary. Anyone with a single functioning brain-cell will know that Libya is a lawless and failed state with no independent and credible judiciary to preside over such a criminal case. It is such absurdities of the decisions of the ICC that strengthen the argument by African leaders who gathered in Addis Ababa with the intention to withdraw their countries from the Rome Statute of the ICC.

The concern that perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Africa would go unpunished is nonsensical and largely based on the colonial attitude that Africa needs a baby-sitter. There are countless western leaders who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression and there has been no attempt to bring these thugs to justice;. And they will never be brought to justice as long as the standing arrangement at the UN Security Council continues. The US, which we know to have over the years committed a series of war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression, is not a signatory to the Rome Statute. American war criminals such as Obama and Bush will never be brought to book. The ICC can only investigate and prosecute them on referral by the UN Security Council. But therein lies the problem. The US is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that hold veto powers. They will readily block any resolution seeking to initiate an investigation against their own war criminals. What is more concerning is that three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely the US, Russia and China, are not signatories to the Rome Statute and therefore exist outside the framework of international justice. This is not an arrangement that is fair to anyone. We cannot be seeking to promote selective international justice where prosecution is deemed appropriate for the weak and not acceptable for the powerful members of the community of nations.

Until the administration of international justice can be executed on a leveled playing field, African countries must reject the ICC. It is the right thing to do. The decision by the African Union to engage with the UN Security Council is a futile task. The UN Security Council is a body whose majority of permanent members enjoy "immunity" from prosecution and cannot be expected to make objective decisions on Africa's concerns over the Rome Statute. Since there are some African countries known to be proxies of the West who reject mass withdrawal from the Rome Statutee, those wishing to defend their own national interests should go ahead and withdraw individually. In any case, there would not have been any need for war crimes and crimes against humanity to be investigated against African countries had the western thugs not been supporting and arming rebel groups and fanning the flames of civil conflict in the Continent. Africa is in turmoil because of funding and arms from thuggish western governments who continue to pursue their colonial agenda through their proxies.

We must not allow Africa to be a pawn in the pursuit of neo-colonial and imperialist interests. We must live to the ideals of African leaders and intellectuals who, in 1900 at the first Pan-African Congress, committed themselves to full liberation of the peoples of Africa from colonialism and imperialism. We cannot and should not be supporting institutions such as this international kangaroo court which serve colonial and imperialist interests. Respected Africans like Kofi Annan and Desmond Tutu, who elected to suspend their common sense in support of the ICC, should be ignored in this instance.

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