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Leonard Mulunda
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The International Criminal Court

26 June 2014, 21:00

It is true that the International criminal court was founded to target Africans only, or it is the opposite? Many people in Africa are not convince that the ICC governed by the July 1998 Rome statute which came into force on 1 July 2002, has an international jurisdiction to help end impunity for the perpetrators of most serious crime of concern to the international community as well as prosecuting individuals for genocide, Indeed if the world has to be considered as the beautiful place to live in, these crimes have to end certainly whether they were committed in Africa, America, Europe , Asia or Oceania, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

Indeed if the world has to be considered as the beautiful place to live in, these crimes have to end certainly whether they were committed in Africa, America, Europe , Asia or Oceania. When the French lawyer and political philosopher namely Charles-Louis de secondat Montesquieu (1689-1755) articulated the theory of the separation of powers which is implemented in many constitutions throughout the world by saying «For we cannot abuse power, should by the arrangement of things, power checks power, if need be, power arrest power», he wanted to clarify that the value of judiciary in a given state, will rely on it independency from politics.

But the Independency of the International Criminal Court is questionable by many people throughout the world, in particular Africans. The Rome statute of the International Criminal court was adopted at a five-week diplomatic Conference convened by the United Nations general Assembly in Rome on 17 July 1998.

The statute was adopted by a vote of 120 to 7 with 21 countries abstaining because of the way each delegation voted was officially unrecorded, the 7 countries that  voted against the treaty, certain it was China, Israel, The United states of America, Libya, Qatar, including Russia and Yemen. Here it is clear to agree with those arguing about the independency of the court firstly we cannot have a court which has an international jurisdiction while some states members of the Security Council are opposed to it. 

Secondly, Article 16 of the Rome statute of the international criminal court on the deferral of investigation or prosecution declares that no investigation or prosecution may be commenced or proceeded with under the statute for a period of 12 months after the security council, in a resolution adopted under Chap VII of the charter of the United Nations, has requested the court to that effect, that request may be renewed by the council under the same conditions.

But China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council having the option to oppose a resolution because of the right of veto which they hold. It is important to describe the perception of these five countries toward Africa as a whole, if they consider themselves as equal states to these in Africa.

Meanwhile China voted against the Rome statute, although Russia had sign the Rome statute on 13 September 2000, but its Remain one of the 31 states that have not ratify the treaty and the United State who had sign the Rome statute on 31 December 2000, had declared already that they no longer intend to ratify the treaty arguing that the International Criminal Court is a political court without appeal, violating the International law, while France and Britain are among the largest Financial contributors.

Additionally, all of the cases currently open at ICC are in Africa. The court’s first verdict in March 20112, was against Thomas Lubanga, leader of a militia in DRC, convicted of war crimes relating to the use of children and was sentenced to 14 years. Other cases pending at ICC  concern  some  high profile in African Politics like  the former president   of Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo who is currently facing charges of crime against humanity, murder, rape and others forms of sexual violence occurred after the 2010 disputed election, Mr Jean Pierre Bemba Gombo a former Congolese rebel leader charged with two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes over alleged cases of murder, rape and pillage in the central African republic in 2002 and 2003 under the leadership of president Ange-Felix Patasse who faced an attempt military coup of Francois Bozize, including Joseph kony a leader of rebel movement, the lord’s resistance army who is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including adduction of thousands of children and forcing them to kill their own parents, which is active in northern Uganda, north-eastern DR Congo and South Sudan, and others….  This ICC is an organ manipulated by those holding the right of veto, they have   power to refer who they want to the ICC, this has result to the relocation of the July 2012 African Union summit which was moved from Malawi to Ethiopia after president Joyce Banda said, she did not want to host the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir who’s wanted by the ICC for three counts of genocide, two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity, for fearing of antagonising Western donors.

In this scenario, one must understand that cases can come before the court only through the state party to the Rome statute, the prosecutor or the United Nations Security Council. There is none of African sate currently as permanent member of the Security Council even though 75 % of the UN agenda concerns is disappointment for Africans to be told by the western forces about what to do in twenty first century, because if the ICC was setup to tackle Africans only, then they must move the Headquarter from Europe to Africa.

The United Nations Security Council has power to request a prosecution of any individual as it request the Omar al-Bashir and Muammar Gaddafi. Even though accountability should take place in Darfur war and Libyan crisis, there is no doubt to describe the relationship of these two leaders and the western countries. Why should the African Union refer to the UN if it needed the International Criminal Court to stop prosecuting Africans leaders serving during their mandates? Africans people deserve equal opportunity to see accountability in crimes toccurred out of the African continent boundaries.

Leonard Mulunda

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