By Anthony L Hall
I have duly commended the mission of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to bring perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes to justice.
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com
But I have also questioned why ICC prosecutors appear to be racially profiling African leaders. After all, Africans are the only ones who have been indicted since this first-ever permanent international criminal court was established in 2002.
It is noteworthy that the ICC elected Bensouda, an African woman from The Gambia, as chief prosecutor by consensus in December 2011. For there is no gainsaying that it did so primarily to counter the growing perception that it is a court of white men sitting in biased judgment against black men
. (“No (Equitable) Justice in ICC Prosecuting Kenya’s Kenyatta,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 25, 2013)
Their self-evident racial profiling came into stark relief last year when the ICC indicted Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta. They charged him with crimes against humanity stemming from tribal warfare that erupted there after national elections in 2007.
To be fair, the ICC has been considering whether to open formal investigations into cases stemming from crimes committed in a few places outside of Africa. Most notable are war crimes “committed by all sides” in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.
But given the bilateral agreements NATO members struck with Afghanistan to exclude their soldiers from the Court’s jurisdiction, the only perpetrators the ICC would even have any authority to prosecute are Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters….
Of course, it’s one thing for an international court (namely, the Special Court for Sierra Leone) to indict a diamonds/drugs warlord turned president like Charles Taylor of Liberia; it’s quite another to indict Kenyatta. After all, he’s not only the son of a man who is arguably even more revered throughout Africa than Nelson Mandela, he’s now the sitting, legitimately elected president of Kenya.
This is why it came as no surprise when the African Union convened an extraordinary session last weekend to decide whether member states should withdraw en masse from the ICC’s jurisdiction.
Here, in part, is how Kenyatta framed the (self-serving) issue:
The ICC has been reduced into a painfully farcical pantomime, a travesty that adds insult to the injury of victims. It stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers
. (BBC, October 12, 2013)
In the end, the AU merely resolved that, henceforth, no African head of state shall appear before any international court.
This clearly fell short of the outright rejection of the ICC that many leaders sought and Kenyatta clearly hoped for. But it certainly provides the cover he needs to ignore the ICC summons for him to appear in The Hague next month (on November 12) for the opening of his trial.
I wagered it would be thus:
I am willing to bet my life savings that President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta will never set foot in The Hague; and, if convicted in absentia, he will never serve a day in jail.
Honestly, all things considered, who could blame him if he proceeded now to use his position as president, as well as prevailing anti-ICC sentiment throughout Africa, to shield himself from arrest?
(“No (Equitable) Justice in ICC Prosecuting Kenya’s Kenyatta,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 25, 2013)
What’s more, there seems little doubt that his AU immunity will extend not just through the remainder of this term, which runs to April 2018, but also through a second five-year term, given that his re-election as Kenya’s head of state seems guaranteed.
Meanwhile, because China and Russia have already undermined so much of the influence Western powers like the United States and France once wielded throughout the Dark Continent, Kenyatta should have no fear of being arrested if he travels outside Africa.
After all, the last thing these “declining imperial powers’” want is for member states of the African Union to harbor towards them the same kind of enmity member states of ALBA (the Bolivarian alliance Venezuela and Cuba founded in 2004) have towards the United States.
Not to mention that the strong, decisive leadership Kenyatta demonstrated in dealing with last month’s terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last month earned him a de facto
get-out-of-jail-free card as far as most Western leaders are concerned.
But only God knows how ICC prosecutors are going to finesse a politically expedient outcome for his deputy William Ruto, whose trial commenced in The Hague last month, and is proceeding unaffected by this AU resolution….
Finally, I fully appreciate that the record of African despots and warlords getting away with all kinds of crimes against humanity has led even pan-Africanists to take neo-colonial comfort in subjecting Africans leaders to the jurisdiction of the ICC. And the irony is not lost on me that African and Caribbean leaders are the ones who lobbied hardest for the establishment of the ICC.
All the same:
I urge you to bear in mind that nobody called for the racist fiends who ruled the United States from slavery to Jim Crow to be hauled before any international criminal court for the systematic crimes against humanity they committed (or orchestrated).
Therefore, I submit that, just as America has done since its founding, African countries should be left alone to figure out how to prosecute and imprison (if called for) any leader who commits an impeachable offense [including crimes against humanity].
(“International Criminal Court Has Lost All Credibility,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 5, 2013)
Corruption in Kenya
Conflict in Kenya
No equitable justice
ICC lost credibility