Written by: Jefferson G. Togba
Ever since its birth in 1946, the International Criminal Court and /or International Court of Justice (ICC/ICJ) has not done much to prosecute perpetrators of war crime and crime against humanity holistically. Since justice for one would equally means giving justice to all as crime is never planned and executed by a single individual.
Moreover, I think the ICC/ICJ has seen Africa as less power to turn down or ignore arrest warrant so whenever the court wants to learn new terms or description of crime in practice; Africans’ leaders and stakeholders are forcefully taken to The Hague as slaves for trial in the name of JUSTICE.
The International Criminal Court /International court of justice has not done much to equally bring “WESTERNERS” to the most talk about justice that does not discriminate against color or creed, neither country or continent either great power or less power, but nothing more than the plain truth.
The International Criminal Court supposed to be the giver of justice, but instead it has committed serious crimes of genocide, crimes of injustices against Africans and crimes of prejudices against members of the continent in particular then others regions. The recent decision by the Republic of South Africa to formally withdraw its membership from the International Criminal Court is welcoming. This points to the asymmetrical interpretations and enforcement of justice.
Trust me. That call is sweeping across the continent by governments and its heads of state to pull out of the Rome Statute. This also validates the court bias behavior . The International Criminal Court(ICC or ICJ) an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal based in The Hague, the Netherlands.
The many disproportionate justices that are carried out against the region and its citizens clearly suggest that the body is now INTER-SUPER-POWER organization. Even though the ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes; but yet, played blind loyalist to others regions for the same reasons Africans are prosecuted. Crime is crime; regardless who commits the crime.
The argument is that the perpetrators must always be prosecuted while the victims get justice. On the one hand, only culprits from Africa are mostly subpoenaed whereas other regions allegedly criminals walk sky-free. The debate keen focus surrounding the ICC/ICJ functionality and prosecution ability been centered on Africa as her principle ground to indict rather than each and every individual and/ or nation in violation of societal norms especially crimes of all forms. Africans are not pre-trial cases for new legal practices and terminologies within your jurisprudence.
WHY NOT PROSECUTE OTHER REGIONS TOO
Others continents’ leaders remain untouchable who have committed comparable and even more grievous crimes than Africa or Africans. The ICC/ICJ has not prosecuted any continent citizens more than Africa.
This prejudices must seize against Africans. So we deserve to be treated like any of the world’s citizen. Meanwhile, the so called western (American, British and EU countries, Arab, Asian as well as Latin America’s leaders) are unpunished for the alleged genocides in their regions and sometime around the globe.
Yet, the ICC does have moral voice and legal power to drag them in court at The Hague. But in fact, only one western leader so far has ever gone through this, Slobodan Milosevic in2001 for committing war crime and crime against humanity during the Serbia-Albanian civil unrest from 1992 -1999.
Unfortunately, one could see him as former Soviet Union Nation’s actor that needed retribution. In addition, that was the simple reason for his arrest and he died while facing trial at Hague in 2006.
Additionally, if former and current presidents, senior governments officials in Africa can face justice then why shouldn’t we see the past US presidents like George Bush, Sr and William Jefferson Clinton in 1992 and 1994 for their road in killing innocent people in Kosovo and Somalia.
In recent, the former president of the United States of America Barrack H. Obama armed several rebels groups with more than US$500Millions of taxpayer’s moneyto commit crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against the innocent and poverty striking Syrians. Today Syria and the Middle East remain one of the world’s most vulnerable and volatiles place to live. He also caused chaos in Libya in the name of giving the Libyan democracy. Libya, too, remains a very dangerous and insecure nation on earth.
If the ICC/ICJ is categorically an organization that stands for integrityand giver of justice to victims amongst every justice system, then we expect the ICC/ICJ to call upon all to stand trial. Does the ICC/ICJ see what the Saudi is doing in the Yamen? Don’t play Africans asymmetric justice. The Russian, American, Turk, German, the British have committed the worst crimes against humanity, but who dare to drag them to the ICC/ICJ? These wars are constantly being reported by the very Western media, on the other hand, who cares? Few years ago, the French troop killed and committed atrocity during the Ivorian civil unrest. Is it because we have more color judges at the Trial Chambers than African?
Take for instance, former US president George W. Bush, Jr and former British Prime minister Tony Blair’s 2003 invasion of Iraq “coalition of the willing”. Today Iraq is yet to be stable neither peaceful. Where is the trumpet of justice by ICC that wants to make African accountable for their wrongful actions? The war in Afghanistan has caused so many deaths, up till now it is not crime against humanity like what been fought in the Ukraine by Russian-backed separatist.
The ICC/ICJ does not see moral reason to prosecute anyone when the westerners killed tens of thousands, but only the actors of African conflicts. In fact, they are perpetrators of African conflicts.US simultaneously invaded many of its neighbors (Haiti, Nicaragua & Panama 1994 and 1989) in the name of just cause and democracy. Where is the US most terrible joint chiefs of staff General Colin Powell and former Secretary of States who led and directed all the wars?
AFRICA’s RECEIVE MORE PROSECUTION
Interestingly, Africa has received more prejudices than any region. We are no longer in the slave era where African rights were forcefully violated. Come to think of the many arrest warrant already issued by the ICC for Africans.Hence, the facts are put into proper perspective since 2004 to present nine (9) African nations and twenty (25) Leaders, War Lords and high profile government officials have been issued arrest warrant for pre-trial and setting out up special war crime courts like the one in Sierra Leone that concluded verdict against the former Liberian leader few years back.
Where is the ICC/ICJ justice that is aimlessly punishing Africans, but cannot bring other dictators like Trujillo of the Dominican, Marcos of the Philippine, Suharto of Indonesia and Duvalier of Haiti in the 1980s. Even the Iraq-Turkey-The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) conflict that has exposed serious signs of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Yet, no charge. Is that what the ICC called serving justice to all victims? Why not subpoena the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan like Joseph Kony of the Lord Resistance army of Uganda?
The list of people who have been indicted in the International Criminal Court includes all individuals who have been accused on any counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or contempt of court in the International Criminal Court (ICC) pursuant to the Rome Statute.
Additionally, African countries that have been blinded indicted and single handled picked by great powers are Uganda, Democratic republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Liberia, Sudan, Uganda and Cote D’ivore and Mali. Reluctantly, the court adds Georgia.The ICC/ICJ own deliberate refusal to make western Leaders and Military Officers morally account for crimes and legally responsible for atrocities committed against other free people in the name of democracy and emancipation is a clear evident that the ICJ is Africa Supreme court. Africa leave the ICC because the continent won’t get any just, fair and clean trial. Africa don’t be enslaved by aid conditionality and forget free.
Explicitly, ICC/ICJ is for all but implicitly, one may see ICJ as court for Africa and Africans. For instance, Syria current political crisis, Iran 1979 revolution that killed more than a million, Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, North Korea attacked South Korea in 1960 and Israel-Arab’s war in 1967 with no charge. Africa should not be treated with more prejudices while the others go with impunities. The truth intent for establishing this International Tribunalis to all judge political leaders accused of international crimes during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 following the First World War by the Commission of Responsibilities.
The issue was addressed again at a conference held in Geneva under the auspices of the League of Nations in 1937, which resulted in the conclusion of the first convention stipulating the establishment of a permanent international court to try acts of international terrorism. And so, Western power leaders are not political leaders, too. These political leaders are vividly caught committing international crimes as spelled out in the 1919 and 1937 conferences. Let every man be judged accordingly no matter what and who they are.
WHY LIBERIA AND OTHER AFRICAN MUST LEAVE THE ICC
Since the ICC began functioning on 1 July 2002, the date that the Rome Statute entered into force. There are 32 defendants mostly Africans except the lone representative of the west to cajole Africans that the ICC is working in everyone’s common interest regardless of where the distance. The question is how many western mustard have been summoned? Africa has received the most subpoenaed perpetrators of war crimes than any region.
According to record so far, 39 individuals have been indicted in the ICC, including Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, but the case was later dismissed for the Kenyan’s leader as a result of no evident and huge protest from the Kenyan citizens living in the Europe during his appearance;the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.
For the more than 50years, the ICC witnessed FARC conflict Colombia without charging a single leader for war crimes. We all know how brutal that war has been. Yet, everyone is praising those criminals for the peace deed that claimed more lives, properties and subsequently delayed development and denied the people their Universal Human Right to live freely. This same brassiness caused Burundi, South Africa and the Gambia to announced their withdrawals from the Rome Statute in October 2016.
Specialists still have faith that Kenya, Namibia and Uganda may soon follow in withdrawing from the court, while South Africa is still committed to withdrawing, leading to a mass African departure from the court.
Notwithstanding, some Africans leaders have been sentenced for 50, 14 and 9 years respectively. However, 5 out of the 39 individuals have been convicted while awaiting charges. Also, 8 out of the 39 individuals being declared fugitive since their where about is unknown and have not appear for pre-trial. Unfortunately for the trial, fugitive Vincent otti died in 2007. The Prosecutor has opened ten official investigations and is also conducting an additional nine preliminary examinations whom all are Africans.
Even though, the Second World War established two ad hoc tribunals to prosecute axis power leaders accused of war crimes. The International Military Tribunal, which sat in Nuremberg, prosecuted German leaders while the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo prosecuted Japanese leaders. So, which of the two tribunals the ICC categorized Africans for allegedly committing “war crimes”?Again in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the need for a permanent international court to deal with atrocities after Second World War. Despite all these to control massacres around the globe discrimination continue to set other region members free while others receive punishment, is that right?
Leave the ICC because the continent is under represented at decision making level. Record has proven that only four (4) African countries (South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Mali) ever served as member of the former judges. However, Africa has produced two representatives at the former Trial chamber.
Currently, Africa has four judges out of the eighteen (18) judges with the continent been represented by Kenya, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Botswana. At the moment, the ICC has 124 countries which are party to the Rome Statute, but with one formal notice given by Burundi to withdraw from the Rome Statute. These attempt speaks to the fact of asymmetric justice system.
STRENGTHEN REGIONAL COURTS
The fact that we have eight (8) regional courts in Africa and a continental judiciary system at the African union level which can serve the purpose of ICC. Just act with sincerity. We don’t need to depend on the west for everything. Not even our freedom. This truth to 1960s declaration of independence. Don’t be mistaken because I know we are interconnected as global citizen, but not in slavery anymore. When we trust our justice system, then we don’t need other to teach us confidence. We established institution because we know it will work well for us. Train more citizen and give them the support to discharge their functions without state interference like the West.
In summary to the debate, given the prejudgments legal brassiness by ICC/ICJ against Africa and its citizens the court should expect more African nations exodus. The court must learn to practice balance justice as discrimination will eventually move Africa away from the court because these were some of the imbalances that killed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) while giving birth to permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) now the ICC/ICJ. Remember that a system divided against itself will never survive neither stand.
Therefore, let these withdrawals notices and intends appeal to their bias’s administration of justice as well because the victimization of Africa by the ICC is growing fast than ever. While there exit no more than the normal extent of disagreement the ICC attitudes to re-enslave Africa through this legal imbalance is strong. This phenomenon is easier to understand in the African case of withdrawal than other regional members which makes many thinkers like myself to push harder Africa’s reason to leave the ICC. But it will not only shock western ideology to expose their plan to enslave the continent through unscrupulous justice system.
Jefferson G. Togba is a lecturer at the United Methodist University; he holds master of Arts degree in Diplomacy, Law & Business. He also read extensively on international Affairs with emphasis on International Political Economy at the Jindal School of international Affairs at the O.P. Jindal Global University in India. He also served as conference panelist during the India-Africa Corporation held in New Delhi in 2014; and he graduated with bachelor degree in Business Administration at the AME Zion University, Liberia.