Civil Society groups from across Africa are calling on their African leaders to continue to stand against impunity. The African Union (AU) has convened a meeting this week, in part to discuss whether African states will withdraw cooperation with International Criminal Court (ICC) proceedings. Detractors say that the ICC is unfairly focused on prosecuting African war crimes.
These tensions were stirred early last year, with the indictment of the sitting President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya. Both men are currently on trial for war crimes, including rape, committed during the aftermath of the 2007 elections. The ICC prosecutor independently pursued this case after national courts within Kenya failed to bring justice domestically.
Despite the accusations of bias against Africa, the investigations and indictments are not without basis. In fact national African governments themselves referred five of the current cases. Further, a majority of the African Union are supporters of the ICC, and they have been instrumental in the establishment and operations of the court.
Without doubt, the scope of the court must be widened, but a mass withdrawal by African states would not achieve this. Instead ICC members must continue to lobby holdout States to recognizing the jurisdiction of the Court. Only with a strengthened rule of international law will we see the end of impunity and justice for victims.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan says it this way: “The leaders are protecting themselves, no one speaks for the victims. If they fight the ICC, vote against the ICC, withdraw their cases, it would be a badge of shame. Let me stress that it is the culture of impunity and individuals who are on trial at the International Criminal Court, not Africa.”
Join the Thunderclap calling on African Leaders to stay in the ICC. This will automatically update your Facebook Status or Twitter on Friday afternoon.