‘ICC must treat Africans fairly’

UGANDA’S President Yoweri Museveni has called on African nations to pull out of the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC), amid accusations that it unfairly targets Africans.

However, Speaking exclusively to the ‘Sunday News’ on Saturday, a researcher and consultant in economics and business at the Mzumbe University, Dr Honest Ngowi said that while he objects the pulling out from the court, he conceded that there was need to improve it such that there is no bias.

“For the sake of good governance at a global level, there is need to have a body that oversees that human rights are upheld. The notion that the court only targets Africa should be removed and justice should be for everyone,” he said.

On Friday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he will mobilise African leaders to quit the ICC, accusing it of being used as a “tool to target” the continent. Museveni was cheered as he spoke at Kenya’s independence day celebrations, after the collapse earlier this month of the ICC’s crimes against humanity case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“I will bring a motion to the next sitting of the African Union to have all African states withdraw from the court, then they can be left alone with their own court,” Museveni said, criticising Western nations.

“They have used it as a tool to target Africa.” On the other hand, the Legal and Human Rights Centre Executive Director, Dr Helen Kijo- Bisimba concurred with Dr Ngowi saying that it was quite obvious that leaders haven’t yet grasped how the court operates and why it was created.

Dr Bisimba said that it came to her as a surprise that President Museveni is the one advocating for the pullout when he was the one who used the same court to charge Kony.

Kenyatta, 53, had said he was “vindicated” after The Hague-based prosecutor earlier this month dropped all charges accusing him of allegedly masterminding Kenya’s deadly post-election violence in 2007-08. The trial of his deputy Vice-President William Ruto on similar but separate charges continues.

Experts say the collapse of the case against Kenyatta has been the ICC’s biggest setback yet. The AU has previously slammed the ICC for unfairly targeting Africans, calling the international court “racist”, and last year requested for the Kenyan cases to be deferred, a bid rejected by the United Nations.

“The ICC has been undermining African states. We told them to wait to try Kenyatta and Ruto after they finish serving their terms, they refused,” Museveni added, speaking alongside Kenyatta.

“Now, see, charges against Kenyatta have been withdrawn.” AU heads of state next meet at a January 30- 31 at the bloc’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties to have ratified the ICC’s founding treaty, and an African withdrawal from the court would seriously damage the institution.

But previous AU debates on the issue in October 2013 saw the bloc divided, with countries like Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Rwanda taking a tough line, but other nations seemingly reluctant to get embroiled in a diplomatic confrontation. Any pullout would be the decision of an individual nations that have signed the ICC’s founding Rome Statute.


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