ICC must respect Africa

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THE attempt by Southern African Litigation Centre SALC to enforce two warrants of arrest on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the ruling by judge Hans Fabricuis to bar him from leaving South Africa at the just ended African Union (AU) Summit can only be described as an act of disrespect.
Sudanese President al-Bashir who attended the 25th session of the AU summit in South Africa was supposedly indicted by the International Criminal Court ICC on March 4 2009 on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes with regard to the situation in Darfur, Sudan.
He is accused of allegedly ordering the rape, murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture of civilians, as well as the pillaging of numerous villages and camps whether or not this is true or another thing.
The Sudanese leader is one of the 36 people publicly indicted by the ICC which has also issued 28 individual arrest warrants and eight summonses on other leaders and individuals, among them Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Cote’ d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo.
Uhuru Kenyatta the President of Kenya was indicted on March 8 2011 on five counts of crimes against humanity in Kenya.
Laurent Gbagbo was also indicted on November 23 2011 on four counts of crimes against humanity in Côte d’Ivoire.
Muammar Gaddafi was also indicted on June 27 2011 on two counts of crimes against humanity with regard to the situation in Libya.
What makes al-Bashir’s attempted arrest interesting is that prior to the events in South Africa, al-Bashir had travelled to several countries that are also signatories to the Rome Statute such as Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar and Chad without much incident, making the timing of the attempted arrest questionable.
Perhaps for SALC the timing was ideal since the AU Chairman President Robert Mugabe had this January urged African countries party to the ICC to withdraw from it.
The ICC pull out was part of the agenda at the AU summit this June and for the AU Chair, it was not an option.
The AU’s position has always been clear on the matter with former president of Libya and former Chairman of the AU Muammar Gaddafi characterising the indictment as a form of terrorism and an attempt ‘by the West to decolonise their former colonies’.
Although it was unlikely for the arrest of al-Bashir to occur, this was perhaps an opportunity for SALC and Judge Hans Fabricius to make a name and divert the attention from the main business of the AU summit to that of the arrest.
It is an unfortunate coincidence that in 2007, the same SALC having heard of a police raid at Harvest House documented the ‘torture’ and detention of scores of people and set out to have the police investigated and arrested by the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The case was heard from March 26-29 2012 at the North Gauteng High Court, presided over by Judge Hans Fabricius who ruled in favour of SALC and ZEF and held that the decision taken by the NPA and the SAPS not to initiate an investigation into the allegations of torture committed by Zimbabwean officials was “unlawful, inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore invalid.”
The time lapses between this 2007 case and the attempt by SALC to have al-Bashir arrested only spell of a people still with the agenda of rubbishing President Mugabe.
These are the same people who if given a chance will drag President Mugabe to the ICC and not think twice about it.
They are not happy with fact that President Mugabe has championed black empowerment and stood against white influence in Zimbabwe and Africa.
Such organisations are determined to have the white minority rule prevailing in Zimbabwe and have the majority blacks ridiculed.
It is for this reason that President Mugabe has for a long time urged other African countries to be independent of the grip of the West.
He has asked them to pull out of the ICC because it has no value to them.
At least 33 of Africa’s 54 states are a signatory to the Rome Statue and what is surprising is that all the cases brought to the ICC are from Africa.
This is why even Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general of the African National Congress said on Talk Radio 702, the South African government should give notice and get out of the ICC because that was not envisioned.
Mantashe said, “the ICC is a tool in the hand of the powerful to destroy the weak and it is a court that is focusing on Africa, Eastern Europe and Middle East.”
The choice of the venue was also dubious in that it was meant to divert the attention to irrelevant things.
It is similar to when the independent media was awash with the 25 mile radius to which President Mugabe was restricted to when he attended the United Nations General Assembly on Millennium Development Goals summit last year.
Instead of dealing with important issues affecting the population in the African countries, they dwell on the trivialities.
It should be known to such organisations that international gatherings of regional or world leaders such as the AU summit come with diplomatic courtesies including immunity.
With the agenda 2063 calling upon all African countries to establish the future they want for Africa, only unity prosperity and peace should be their focus.
It is unfortunate that for countries like South Africa what is top on their agenda is being held up as a good example internationally and regionally.
Despite seemingly providing a safe passage to al-Bashir which the Government Communication Information Services has denied, South Africa’s invitation to become a member of the G20, the BRICS Forum and elevated status in the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and UN structures is surely getting into that country’s head.
To date, the ICC has opened investigations into nine situations the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic I, Sudan, the Republic of Kenya, Libya, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Mali and the Central African Republic II.
The question for the ICC remains, why just African countries?

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