October 20, 2013 (SSNA) — The African Union (AU) in its current shape is nothing but a gross misnomer. On the one hand it has spectacularly failed to unify the continent of Africa, while on the other hand it has only concerned itself with appeasing those African tyrants who kill their subjects in broad day light.
Today even the least exposed African peasant knows that the AU has often stood on the side of the Heads of States in spite of the hundreds of heinous crimes they have so far committed and continue to commit against their own people.
And there is nothing as liberating for the down-trodden people of this continent when they realize whatever is being planned in Addis Ababa year in and year out is in fact for the consolidation of impunity all across the continent. This good for nothing organisation is truly,” A club for the African dictators”, as once described by Mwaulimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.
Of recent the AU knowingly or unknowingly dragged all its member states into some empty and mind boggling debate against the International Criminal Court (ICC).
However before going any further with the topic, one would like to ask this crucial question, “Why is all this sudden up rise by these African Heads of States, many of whom standing deep to their knees in the blood of their own people, to cry foul at the international criminal court (ICC)?
Funny isn’t it, especially when we know that most of them were in fact the first signatories to this very court when they signed or ratified the Rome Statue? But who is ever surprised when a criminal starts to hurl all kinds of words against law enforcement agent?
Whatever the reasons are for the recent change of heart by the African heads against the ICC, the truth needs to be acknowledged. Today many parts of the African continent that used to be scenes for inter-communities violence, civil wars, and political craziness are now quiet and peaceful as a consequence of the ICC.
If it were not for the ICC, only God knows whether the rampant killing sprees all across the continent would have ever scaled down when thousands of innocent lives were being lost to genocides, ethnic cleanings and many other counts of the worst war crimes and crimes against humanity ever to be committed by Africans under African regimes?
Is it not true that it is because of the International Community and the very concept of International Justice that today we are witnessing a peaceful Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone?
This latest rhetoric originating from the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, whoever started it should be made to understand that it’s a gross mistake and an unfortunate development for the AU to refer to the ICC as a European tool for humiliating African Heads of States.
This rhetoric is by all counts untrue. Not a single case from the continent of Africa was taken by the Europeans for trial at The Hague. In fact all the continent’s cases that found their ways to The Hague were referred there by the African governments themselves or the AU. For example in the cases of Kenyatta & Ruto it was the Kenyan courts and government, while in the case of Al Bashir of Sudan, it was the AU in collaboration with the UN Security Council.
The argument that European, Asian or American leaders are not persecuted by the ICC is completely a crude bunch of propaganda.
We all know that the leaders of the former Yugoslavia who participated in Europe’s worst genocides in the turn of the century have been tried at The Hague. As for the others, had their countries or regional organisations referred their cases to the ICC, I believe that we would have seen them equally tried.
Furthermore the recent attempts by the AU to call off the trials of the Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, who are both accused of masterminding their country’s 2007-08 post elections mayhem where thousands of innocent Kenyan lives were lost, is in itself an obstruction of Justice.
We also know that these two politicians were indicted at the ICC on the account that they masterminded the country’s most heinous inter-community violence before they ascended to the leadership of the republic of Kenya.
Would it not have been a good judgment if the Kenyan Judiciary had never allowed these indictees to contest the 2013 elections in the first place? That’s if there were any sound minded judges or judiciary system in Kenya to start with.
Now with this in mind how does the AU intend to serve justice for the victims of that infamous post-election by disrupting the ICC procedures? Remember that the social wounds of those heinous killings are still fresh and bleeding in the hearts of those who lost relatives and loved ones.
On the other hand this idea that ICC shouldn’t indict a sitting head of state – or can only indict leaders after their have left office- is likely to only worsen the situation of Human Rights abuses in the continent when Heads of States are known for their tendencies to amended constitutions to allow them remain in power beyond their terms or sometimes even for life.
Examples are in abundance and you only need to see those of Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Omer Al Bashir of Sudan, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe etc……This practice unfortunately has also gone to encourage many others who are busy preparing to follow suit.
In Africa many times justice has been sacrificed in the name of peace. Sadly enough what this often leads to is the accumulation of dissatisfaction and the internalization of public anger which later explodes like what happened in post-election Kenya, Rwanda genocide and the Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast …etc …civil wars.
There shouldn’t be any talks about pulling out from the ICC without first establishing an equally competent African alternative court or even national ones for that matter. Of course this can only be realized when the continent truly embraces the pillars of democracy.
Democratic constitutions shouldn’t only dictate the separation of powers to executive, parliament and the judiciary together, but there also a need for a vibrant and independent press as the fourth pillar of this democracy.
Of course without clearly spelled articles in on the separation of powers in each African country’s constitution, a well-equipped and well-staffed constitutional courts to maintain the independence and the constitutionality of all four pillars, we will as just be day dreaming.
On top of all these we know that no any independent and impartial national court can ever come into existence leave alone attempt to question dictators like Robert Mugabe , Omer Bashir or Salva Kiir Mayardit, just to mention but a few, even when they are already on record for gross Human Rights violations .
We don’t want out leaders to use the country’s presidency or the State House as a sanctuary or asylum places when they become criminal. Every criminal’s place is the prison and not the State House.
These people who have been indicted by the ICC since the court was establishment are not some “good gentlemen” who are being wrongly persecuted because they are African leaders. These guys how high up in power they are – they all have innocent blood in their hands.
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba can be reached at: [email protected].