Soroti- The Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has said the ICC is in Africa on invitation by African countries that are state parties to the Rome Statute and not by choice.
Ms Fatou Bensouda, who finalised her visit of northern and eastern Uganda to acquaint herself with the effects of the LRA war yesterday, said the attack on the court by African heads of state is unfair.
“Leaders should not expect to commit atrocities and expect to be above the law. Those days are over; ICC was created to help the victims,” Ms Bensouda told a gathering comprising civil society, security and political leaders in Soroti Town.
She said African Union and ICC share the same values on human rights and are both against impunity. She said Uganda ratified the Rome Statute in 2003, and requested for help on LRA war crimes. She said investigations are also on going in DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic and Mali.
“It’s very clear we work in transparent manner,” she explained.
Ms Bensouda said the ICC believes in fact-finding, the reason she came to listen to the victims of the LRA. One of the LRA commanders, Dominic Ongwen, is at the Hague awaiting trial in January 2016.
Ms Bensouda promised that more ICC officials will be coming to take statements from LRA war victims to help her office table a solid case before the judges. This, she said, is the reason why she asked judges to adjourn the Ongwen case to January 2016 as opposed to August 2015 as earlier indicated.
Mr Musa Ecweru, the state minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, thanked the prosecutor for coming to listen to the war victims.
President Museveni has often bashed the ICC. During the Independence Day celebrations last year, Mr Museveni described the ICC as “a biased instrument of post-colonial hegemony.” The President was unhappy with the ICC for indicting two sitting African presidents; Omar Bashir of Sudan and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. Mr Bashir was indicted for war crimes in Darfur while Kenyatta was accused of fanning election violence in 2007. Mr Kenyatta’s charges have since been dropped.