The accusers include no mean a personality than the Deputy Attorney-General of Ghana, Dr Dominic Ayine; and the Coalition of Pan Africanists (CPA) whose members include Femi Akomolafe, a renowned prolific writer and Ayuureyisiya K. Atafori, Editor of Ghana Business & Finance.
The attacks were occasioned by the two-day international conference organised by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) on the topic: The International Criminal Court and Africa: A Discussion on Legitimacy, Impunity, Selectivity, Fairness and Accountability at the campus of GIMPA, Accra, and had the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, as its key speaker.
Whilst addressing the conference on the opening day, Thursday, Dr Ayine, categorically stated that African leaders were suffering from selective prosecution by the ICC and challenged members of the ICC to take the accusation seriously.
“The ball is in her court literally to also address issues of perception and some will dare say the reality of selective prosecution. We are here today because of the fact that there is a widely held belief that the court is selectively targeting Africans for prosecution.
“And you will agree with me that selective prosecution is unacceptable as a norm of constitutional justice. Therefore, it is incumbent on the court to make good faith effort to ensure fairness in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” he directed his concerns at Fatou Bensouda.
But the Bensouda would not allow the Dr Ayine’s attack to slip by as she responded in equal measure. She argued most of the cases investigated by the ICC are cases the Africans themselves brought before the ICC.
She said once those cases have been referred to the ICC “we have the obligation to investigate and bring evidence before the judges.”
Ahead of the conference, the CPA at news conference in Accra on Wednesday also passed a damning verdict on the ICC, citing it for witch hunting African leaders.
A statement read by Mr Atafori observed,” Ever since the ICC was established fourteen years ago under the Rome Statute, African leaders and individual personalities have come under intense politico-judicial witch hunting, leading to the long-term incarceration of some of them arising out of trumped up charges based on hidden political agenda of ‘regime change.’”
The Pan Africanists noticed with grave concern the dereliction of duty by the ICC of its core mandate to protect the vulnerable people of the world.
“The ICC has chosen a path which robbed the people of Africa of their freedom and rights, thereby encouraging impunity based on the political leaning of the perpetrator. Strangely, though not surprisingly, the ICC has invaded and hijacked the internal workings of some judicial authorities in African countries that are State Parties to the Rome Statute,” the CPA indicted the ICC.
Against the background of this plethora of allegations, the CPA associated itself with the call by the African Union (AU) to the African State Parties to the ICC Statute not to co-operate with the ICC.
“The perversion of justice, political profiling and racism, which have become the hallmark of the ICC, have exposed the double standards of the court. It is on this score that the CPA supports the earlier call by the African Union (AU)on 3rdJuly 2009 to the African State Parties to the ICC Statute not to co-operate with the ICC,” it stated.
Mr Justice Emile Short, an eminent jurist and former Commissioner of the Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has parried off the allegations of bias against the ICC by Dr Ayine and the Pan Africanists.
Speaking on Joy FM news, Justice Short opined that criticisms against the ICC were unsustainable and over exaggerated.
He argued that instead of concentrating on the supposed persecution of African leaders by the ICC, critics should rather focus on justice the ICC gave to the many victims who have suffered from wars in Africa—wars which were the result of bad leadership from African presidents.
He contended that when crimes were committed in member countries, the ICC has a duty to investigate those crimes and bring justice to both the victims and the perpetrators.
There have been attempts by the AU to seek immunity from prosecution to sitting heads of state in Africa, but Justice Short believed such a protocol would not be in the interest of Africa. If anything, he said that would only make African leaders become despots and would not be accountable to their citizens.
“The allegation that sitting heads of state must have immunity is not based on the Rome Status,” he noted.
He stated, however, that there have been some investigations in Korea, China and other countries where there have allegations of human rights abuses but conceded that there has to be some “reforms at the ICC” which would make the Western powers a little more objective than they were now.
He was unequivocal that most of heinous political crimes have been committed in Africa and “we should concentrate on the African situation and how to get justice for the African victims. “ People were killed and raped in Kenya in other African countries. It is the African leaders who caused it,” he stated.
The ICC, governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
It is an independent international organisation, and is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands. Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.
To date, the ICC has opened investigations into nine situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Uganda; the Central African Republic; Darfur, Sudan, the Republic of Kenya; Libya; the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire; the Republic of Mali and the Central African Republic II.
The ICC has publicly indicted 39 people and issued arrest warrants for 31 individuals and summons to eight others.
Eight persons are in detention. Proceedings against 25 are ongoing: nine are at large as fugitives, four are under arrest but not in the Court’s custody, two are in the pre-trial phase, and ten are at trial.
Source: Public Agenda
By Ebenezer T. Hanson