The International Criminal Court: Anti-Africa biased? by Frederick S.

The International Criminal Court: Anti-Africa biased?

by Frederick S.

Published on Thu, Dec 08 2011 by Frederick S.

Based in the Hague, Netherlands (and often confused with the International Court of Justice, which is also Hague-based but a court where states go to settle their disputes with other states), the International Criminal Court is exactly what it names says: an international court that tries crimes committed by (mostly) political leaders. In legalese, the ICC can be described as "a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression."

Founded in July 1, 2002, through the Rome Statute, the ICC is empowered to prosecute cases that happened after that date. As at December 2011, the signatory countries include: all of South America, almost all of Europe, and roughly half the countries in Africa. The ICC has the backing of the UN Security Council, that is members of the council can vote or veto a referral to the ICC. However, because not all members of the Security Council are signatories to the Rome Treaty yet enjoy full powers with respect to the ICC, the ICC has been criticized, justly, as being a pawn of more powerful nations--countries like China, United States, and Russia are members of the Security Council but are not signatories to the Rome Treaty, meaning they can vote for people from other countries to be tried by the court, while vetoing referrals seeking to try citizens from those countries. This is clearly an uneven unjust justice, if you will.
The argument that the ICC is an imperialist tool is as interesting as it is far-flung. But a close examination of details of cases before the court lends credence to a milder rephrasing that the ICC is biased against African countries. To date, all seven investigations that have been opened by the ICC concern African countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Uganda; the Central African Republic; Darfur, Sudan; the Republic of Kenya; the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire. Just this week, former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo was flown to The Hague in preparation trial for charges of rape, murder, related to the Ivorian election violence, scheduled to take place in June 2012.
In light of the various other political crimes committed in other parts of the world in recent times: extrajudicial massacres in Sri Lanka during the dying throes of its civil war; flagrant civilian violations in Yemen and Bahrain; and the most obvious of all, the Syrian government's vicious clampdowns of opposition protests; it is worth questioning the fairness of the ICC in its choice of cases to prosecute.

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