Botswana - Africa attitude to ICC wrong

2011-12-12 21:23

New York - Botswana's President Ian Khama Monday hit out at African leaders who refuse to co-operate with the International Criminal Court saying it put the continent "on the wrong side of history".

Khama, giving a keynote speech to the ICC's annual meeting, particularly hit out at a decision by an African Union summit this year to oppose arrest warrants issued for late Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi and other African leaders.

"This decision is a serious setback in the battle against impunity in Africa and undermines efforts to confront war crimes and crimes against humanity which are committed by some leaders on the continent," Khama said.

"Such a move also places Africa on the wrong side of history. It is a betrayal of the innocent and helpless victims of such crimes."

Africa has more state members of the ICC than any other region - with 33 out of 120 signatories - but the tribunal's work has also proved controversial as all of its official investigations have been in Africa. Many African presidents say the continent is unfairly targeted.

"I specifically note with regret that at a recent summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in June 2011, the African Union formally decided not to co-operate with the ICC over the indictments and arrest warrants against some leaders," said Khama, who has been a strong supporter of the tribunal.

The ICC has also issued a warrant for genocide against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo is now in custody at the tribunal's headquarters in The Hague.

"We need to have the political will and the moral courage to hold accountable, without fear or favour, anyone in authority - including a sitting head of state - when he or she is suspected of having committed crimes against innocent people," Khama said.

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  un  |  omar al-bashir  |  ian khama  |  laurent gbagbo  |  botswana  |  southern africa

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