Uganda leads Africa’s move to quit international court
Posted Saturday, October 12 2013 at 01:00
Wise man. Officials say President Museveni’s stature as an elder statesman galvanises peers ahead of today’s crucial AU meeting in Addis for the bloc’s decision on unanimous pullout.
Uganda has admitted rallying African countries to collectively withdraw from the International Criminal Court, citing the court’s “selective justice” administration and the West’s patronising attitude.
According to state minister for International Affairs Okello-Oryem, the ICC failure to treat elected African leaders with respect became an “irritant”, engineering a “very strong momentum toward total withdrawal” from the international court.
“This is because of selective justice and arrogance of members of the court not to take into consideration matters of justice vis-à-vis the potential to cause chaos in a country [while dispensing cases],” he said on Thursday.
The Hague-based ICC was established under the 1998 Rome Statute in 2008 to try cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, which are considered borderless offences.
African leaders are due to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today to determine whether or not to pull out of ICC altogether.
African Union chairperson, Ms Dlamini-Zuma, has separately written to the President of the UN Security Council, urging it to defer the trial of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto at the ICC in the wake of last month’s terrorist attack in Nairobi.
On Thursday, the London-headquartered rights group, Amnesty International, condemned the diplomatic tinkering that could result in indicted African leaders getting off the hook.
“A resolution calling on African states to withdraw en bloc from the Rome Statute would be reactionary in the extreme,” said Mr Tawanda Hondora, the organisation’s Deputy Director of Law and Policy.
“Such a resolution would serve no purpose except to shield from justice, and to give succour to people suspected of committing some of the worst crimes known to humanity,” he reasoned.
In yesterday’s interview, Mr Okello-Oryem said they were disturbed that the ICC declined Kenya’s request for Mr Ruto to return home to allow President Kenyatta attend and deliver his maiden address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) last month. The refusal, he said, happened while ICC was aware Kenya’s Constitution does not allow the two principals to be out of the country at the same time.
President Museveni told the 68th UNGA in New York that ICC officials, by ignoring views of African leaders, were “biased and shallow” in handling complex African issues.
In June, this year, the AU passed a Uganda-sponsored resolution against the ICC and demanded that the trial of Kenyatta and Ruto be reverted to Kenya since the country now has a credible and competent judiciary.
Asked if President Museveni has developed the anti-ICC rhetoric fearing he could be candidate for trial in future, Mr Oryem said: “No, no, no…there’s nothing like that. Those saying so are jokers.” In response to a question from this newspaper in 2011 on whether he was afraid he could be prosecuted in future over civilian deaths in the hands of his government security forces in various public protests, Mr Museveni said he instead expected to win the Nobel Peace Prize for “managing the country very well, particularly the army and the economy.”
THE case for withdrawal
Uganda and Rwanda have reportedly spearheaded and galvanised African leaders to accept exiting the Rome Statute, which, if executed, would render the ICC lean on membership and weak. Kampala and Kigali flag the “mishandled” case of Kenya’s leaders as basis to quit amid concerns Presidents Museveni and Kagame might be motivated by other considerations..