With George S. Khoryama……………
In May last year few weeks to the convening of the Africa Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I wrote under this same column about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and African leaders’ position on the establishment of that court. From the inception of the court of which African countries are a signatory, an African leader considered the court as flawed, racially biased and only targets them. They were therefore up in arms at that conference to bring down the court.
Hot on the agenda for that conference: PAN AFRICANISM AND AFRICAN RENAISSANCE was the pending trial before the ICC of one of them, then newly elected President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and his vice for their complicity in the massacre of over one thousand Kenyans during the 2008 general and presidential elections in that country. Already, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was and remains a wanted man before the court on similar charges. Former Presidents of Liberia Charles Taylor and Lawrence Gbagbo of Ivory Coast and his wife were already behind bars at the ICC for crimes against their own people.
RACISM AND BIASNESS
African leaders at last year’s AU summit led by their host President Haile Mariam Desalegn of Ethiopia put up a case as to why their colleague Uhuru Kenyatta and his Vice should not be tried by the ICC; instead they should be tried by a Kenyan court. They argued that in spite of whatever crime the two leaders may have omitted against their own people, it was the same Kenyans who had voted for them to the leadership of their country. Therefore, President Kenyatta and his Vice being the chief executives of Kenya were only answerable to the laws of Kenya and not the ICC. For this and other excuses in their heads, the African leaders considered the ICC as a racist and bias institution that only serves the interest of the white man. It occurs however, that the Chief Prosecutor of ICC is an African woman from The Gambia, Justice Fatu Bensuda.
Some new developments have taken place at the ICC vis-à-vis Uhuru Kenyatta and Co trial before the court. The case was recently thrown out of court because of lack of and/or insufficient proof by the prosecution to further the case. It occurred that no witnesses from Kenya had the guts to go and testify against the two powerful men of their country. The case was therefore adjourned sine die and the two leaders got off the hook.
In a similar development at The Hague the ICC has consigned the Darfur, Southern Sudan atrocious human rights violations case before the court to the back burner. According to the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Justice Fatu Bensuda the United Nations has not been giving the requisite support to the court to further the case. That too has died the death to the freedom of the leaders of the warring factions in both Republic of Sudan and Southern Sudan.
These latest developments at The Hague have given African leaders more impetus to estrange the ICC which has become a nightmare for them. The Ugandan dictator Yuweri Meshuveni has already resolved to table a motion at next year’s AU summit for African leaders to pull out of the ICC.
Come to listen to our African leaders’ position on the ICC one cannot help but appreciate and sympathize with their plight. In the first place our leaders through the former Organisation of African Unity (OAU) that has now been transformed to African Union (AU) are known to practice group solidarity for one another in order to keep them in power. Their thirst to remain and die in power regardless of whatever atrocities they commit is the undercurrent of all their arguments and concern over the ICC.
African leaders can get away with many things: murder and no voice are raised in protest. They can pilfer the national treasury bare and have the blood of hundreds if not thousands of their own people on their hands. Our African leaders noted David Lamb in his book – The African – “are more tribal than national statesmen. Tribalism is a factor in wars and power struggle. It determines who gets jobs, promotions and who is accepted to universities; parliaments, ministries and other agencies of government by leaders’ tribal people and loyalists, qualified or not”.
African leaders bestow upon their tribal people undeserved titles and honours, appointments, lands, grants and loans from banks without repayment, scholarship, houses etc., to the exclusion of other tribes. “Political debates in African parliaments have today become a matter of platitudes and praise songs for the leaders; no longer taken seriously,” noted Martin Meredith in his book: THE STATE OF AFRICA.
One could go to any length cataloging the atrocities our leaders commit against their fellow citizens once they get to power that, had no doubt informed the establishment of the ICC in order to contain them but which has cast aspersion on their sensibilities. But one thing African people must remain cognizant of is the fact that the ICC remains the only hope for justice, our protection and human dignity. Our constitutions and laws have failed to defend and protect the people because they are under the personal and exclusive remit of our leaders who use them at their convenience.
Before next year’s AU summit it is time well enough for African people who suffer the brunt of those atrocities to prepare and make a robust representation at that conference in support of the ICC. Let there be a conference of civil societies, human rights organizations and other relevant institutions to discuss the representation at next year’s summit. Our leaders have no rights to pull out of the ICC without consulting the people who put them in power and whose suffer. The ICC remains the only hope for justice to prevail for all and sundry.
With George S. Khoryama……………