African criticism of ICC unfair – Goldstone

2010-09-28 11:14

The criticism that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is against African countries is unfair, Judge Richard Goldstone said yesterday.

“It is unfair to say the court is being used against African countries,” Goldstone said at a lecture at the University of Johannesburg.

He acknowledged that this was a perception because of Africans appearing before the court.

The ICC has opened up five investigations into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya and Darfur in Sudan.

Goldstone said, however, this would change in the near future as individuals in Latin America were coming under investigation.

He added that the ICC only began its activities after officials in those countries declined to open their own investigations.

In the case of Kenya, the country’s parliament refused to begin an investigation into post-election violence in 2007.

“It’s a court of last resort, not a court of first resort,” said Goldstone.

He also commented on Kenya’s hosting of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir at a ceremony celebrating its new constitution.

Al-Bashir has been indicted by the ICC for crimes in Darfur. As a signatory to the ICC treaty, Kenya was obligated to arrest but refused to do so.

This is in contrast, said Goldstone, to South Africa where Al-Bashir was warned not to enter the country for President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration or risk arrest.

Goldstone said that while no action could be taken against country’s such as Kenya, they did risk becoming “pariah states”.

“There is no action against countries that do not fulfil their obligations under the treaty except to become pariah states,” he said.

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