Some quarters in Africa are accusing the International Criminal Court (ICC) of racism, selectivity and targeting of black leaders. A couple of current and former African rulers are facing charges before the ICC including two sitting presidents and one sitting deputy president. Two former presidents, Charles Taylor (Liberia) has already been convicted while Laurent Gbagbo (Ivory Coast) is behind bars waiting for his case to be determined. Other African indictees are Ugandan fugitive Lord Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony along with his lieutenants and other rebel leaders from Darfur, DRC and the son of former Libyan strong man, Saif al Islam Gaddafi, to mention but a few.
The ICC has already confirmed charges against African who’s who and dismissed other cases involving Africans such as Henry Kosgey, Mohamed Husssein (Kenya), Bahr Idris Abu Garda (Sudan) and Calixte Mbarushimana (Rwanda). Also ICC has already acquitted other Africans such as Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui (DRC).
Yes. Looking at the above mentioned people, it is true they’re all Africans. Were they charged because they’re Africans or they allegedly committed crimes against humanity? Why did African countries willingly consent to the Rome Statute? Were they forced or duped?
According to Rwanda’s Justice Minister, Johnston Busingye, “Africa seems to be taking the lion’s share of the ICC. Our position has really been that 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.” If Africa took a lion’s share of the ICC for committing the lion’s share of crimes, is this ICC’s fault? Speaking to Al Jazeera, Peter Kagwanja, a Kenyan Senior Counsel observes that Kenyans feel humiliated for their leaders to be indicted. Is ICC an ambulance chaser?
Ethiopian Premier, Haile Mariam Desalegn has jumped into the bandwagon of vilifying the ICC. “The process ICC is conducting in Africa has a flaw. The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity and ill governance and crime, but now the process has degenerated into some kind of race hunting,” he observes.
Stephen Musau, chair of the Rights Promotion and Protection Center in Kenya however has the answer as to why African countries should not complain but instead put their houses in order. According to him, “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.”
We need to be honest with ourselves, examine our fall and embark on true democracy entrenched on Human Rights, justice and rule of law.
By Nkwazi Mhango
The author is a Canada-based Tanzanian and author of Saa Ya Ukombozi.