During the recent African Union 50 years celebrations, African heads of state gathered in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and made headlines by denouncing the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an institution selecting prosecutable criminals based on race.
Mr Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and the AU chair, said: “African leaders have come to a consensus that the (ICC) process that has been conducted in Africa has a flaw. The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity ... but now the process has degenerated to some kind of race hunting.”
Surprisingly, the issue of a “corrupt” ICC was first raised by President Yoweri Museveni on April 9 during the inauguration of Kenya’s newly-elected President, Uhuru Kenyatta, who is one of those indicted by the court.
At the ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, Museveni said: “I want to salute the Kenyan voters on one issue – the rejection of the blackmail by the International Criminal Court and those who seek to abuse this institution for their own agenda.”
Such pronouncements by a leader who has previously been committed to the work of the ICC raises some suspicions about what the real motives behind such a statement would be.
First, because one would expect the African Union to be supportive of an institution that is dealing with the criminals of the African continent more than those of anywhere else in the world.
Second, rather than attempt to undermine the ICC by withdrawing from the Rome Statute which created the ICC, African leaders could have instead pointed out the other criminals from other parts of the world who have to face justice but haven’t yet been indicted.
That is why I say something fishy could be happening.
How could the African Union, a reputable continental grouping recognised by the international community and the United Nations make such pronouncements using the “race card”, when we would have expected it to use the appropriate administrative channels, including its own internal liaison offices with the United Nations, to raise any matters of genuine concern?
In doing so, they could also attach a list of criminals from other parts of the world that haven’t been indicted by the court and insist that the ICC takes appropriate steps to try those people.
Basically, the African Union could have simply asked the ICC what the organisation is doing to catch other international criminals from other continents?
It is obvious that the Ugandan leader is pushing for an anti-ICC stand in the African Union and he has managed to get African leaders to come out openly to question the institution on what I regard as populist “racist” grounds that sometimes sound good to some sections of the populace.
So why would anyone want to disenfranchise the ICC that is actually providing some justice for Africa?
Several theories have been paraded, including one that says the Ugandan president could be preparing himself for any revelations that the now arrested “Terminator Ntaganda” could reveal about Ugandan and Rwandan leaders involvement in the DR Congo conflict.
Commentators have also mentioned other possible crimes committed by the Ugandan regime during the 80s and 90s in Uganda as a reason for “mudslinging the ICC in advance”.
Regardless of the theories, it is obvious that Uganda needs to continue working with the ICC and raise any complaints appropriately.
Actually according to the ICC website, the process of making a complaint to the ICC is as follows:
Send any complaint to the Information and Evidence Unit, Office of the Prosecutor, P.O. Box 19519, 2500 CM The Hague, Netherlands. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rome Statute also allows any individual to file serious complaints of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes directly to the International Criminal Court so that prosecutors can investigate them.
So let us make the International Criminal Court continue to work for us!