Hooray for Africa rejecting double standard of the ICC
By G. E. Gorfu
Tigrai Online, London July 18, 2015
I was overjoyed to read how South Africa, after holding Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, for a few days, released him to go free back to his country. That said, it does not mean that I have some sympathy for the man. Oh no, I would really have loved to see him face justice for his crimes against the people of South Sudan, especially the people of Darfur.
That justice however, should be administered in Africa and by African judges and not by the ICC in The Hague. There is something deeply demeaning for any Black African leader to be sent to Europe and be mocked and paraded as a prize trophy, and incarcerated in a European prison.
What is doubly demeaning is the double standard of the ICC clearly seen in many instances. One of these instances is where General Augusto Pinochet was indicted for Human Rights violations committed in Chile by a Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzón on 10 October 1998 and arrested in London six days later and held for a year and a half before finally being released by the British government in March 2000.*
Why did they let him go? What happened to British justice that butchers like Pinochet, who overthrew a democratically elected government of Allende and killed tens of thousands of people, are set free? The likes of Margaret Thatcher came to his defense and advocated for his release. British justice blinked, and they let him go due to: “…poor health and advanced age.”
Before the ICC attempts to clean the criminals of Black Africa, it needs to clean its own image and at least on the surface, appear to be even handed. When criminals like Kissinger, Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George Bush, are walking in freedom, to go after African leaders while still in Public Office, smacks of Colonialism of the past century and of a bygone era.
We should see South Africa’s rebuff of the ICC only as the first step. African leaders now need to proceed to the next step. This calls for setting up African Criminal Court of Justice (ACCoJ) and putting our own house in order. Once the African Union (AU) sets up the ACCoJ, the ICC in Europe at The Hague will have no excuse to enforce the law in Africa. Don’t they have many more and bigger criminals in the rest of the world to keep them busy? We are sure they do.
The ACCoJ will then indict and prosecute the likes of al-Bashir and bring them to justice. This will send a clear message to all African leaders to stay within the bounds of the law. All human beings should be equal under the law, and no one should act as if he//she were above the law, – not even a President or a Prime Minister. But more importantly, Europe and the rest of the world will come to see that Africa has taken the responsibility and initiative to clean its own house, to prosecute and try those that break the law, and to punish them at home when found guilty.
In conclusion, we call upon the AU to expeditiously proceed in setting up the ACCoJ. African political leaders suspected of Human Right violations, will then be charged and prosecuted in Africa, tried and defended by African lawyers, and judged by African judges. And when found guilty, they can be punished and/or imprisoned in African prisons.