EDITORIAL COMMENT: Africa must dump kangaroo ICC
THE Pan-African Parliament has joined other voices of reason calling on Africa to pull out of the patently racist International Criminal Court (ICC). One of Zimbabwe’s representatives to the PAP, Chief Fortune Charumbira, said the Parliament had discussed the pull-out and proposed the strengthening of the African Court of Justice based in the Gambia.
The ICC is accused of targeting African leaders in the so-called fight for human rights while ignoring atrocities committed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and American president George Bush in Iraq and elsewhere.
The Hague-based court raised the ire of African leaders following its recent attempt to force the South African government to arrest Sudanese leader Omar Al-Bashir who was in that country for the African Union Summit in Johannesburg. Al-Bashir managed to slip out of South Africa back to his country.
Since then, President Zuma has been under attack from opposition parties and civic society organisations led by the George Soros-sponsored, pro-gay Southern Africa Litigation Centre for ignoring a High Court order for South Africa to detain Al-Bashir until he could be handed over to the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity, genocide and human rights violations. African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Monday this week described the ICC as “dangerous” and urged the South African government to give a notice to pull out. He said what the ICC was doing was contrary to what was “envisaged” when some nations signed the Rome Statute which established the court.
“It is a tool in the hands of the powerful to destroy the weak and it is a court that is focusing on Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East,” said Mantashe. This buttressed President Mugabe’s recent charge that the ICC was a court for Western countries dispensing Western injustice against Africans.
“This is not the headquarters of the ICC,” said President Mugabe, “we don’t want it in this region at all,” he told reporters after the Al-Bashir fiasco.
President Mugabe, who is the chair of both Sadc and the African Union, said the ICC was not welcome to Africa because of its bias. He has been leading calls for African nations to pull out of the ICC. This time around the calls had a greater resonance across the continent following attempts to arrest Al-Bashir, a sitting head of state who had been granted immunity for him to attend the Johannesburg AU Summit.
The Pan-African Parliament’s position to strengthen the African Court of Justice is likely to lend weight to the pan-African view advocating “African solutions to African problems”. There have been complaints of late that Western nations in collaboration with America want to impose their own view on African problems, which has tended to worsen rather than resolve the crises.
Critics have cited abuse of the UN system against Libya in 2011 which led to the overthrow and cold-blooded murder of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the name of enforcing a “no-fly-zone” to protect civilians. Since Gaddafi’s demise Libya has been reduced to a chaotic state with two governments and armed militia running riot across the country.
African leaders have argued that Al-Bashir is a key player in the resolution of the crisis in the Darfur region of South Sudan. Getting him out of power at this critical stage can worsen a bad situation, they argue.
The long and short of it is that African leaders should take a common position in relation to the ICC. So long as they remain members, the agency will continue to be a source of great embarrassment, deciding which African leader can travel or not to whatever country.
As it is, it took the brave and principled stand of President Zuma to save Al-Bashir from arrest, which would have thrown the AU into chaos. Such a development would have unfathomable consequences for the goal of African unity and integration.
Until bigger nations like the US in particular which purports to play the role of the global policeman, subject themselves to the ICC, African countries should suspend membership, or pull out altogether.