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17.03.2009 Feature Article

Is the ICC Targeting Africa and the Third World Countries?

The International Criminal Court was established in 2002 as a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. As of March 4, 2009, it has issued public arrest warrants for thirteen individuals. Two have died, seven of them remain free, four are currently in custody of the court. The four who are in custody are Thomas Lubanga former warlord from DR. Congo; Germaine Katanga former warlord from DR. Congo; Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui also from DR Congo; and Jean-Pierre Bemba from Central Africa Republic.

Among the seven who remain free are Joseph Kony from Uganda; Vincent Otti from Uganda, Raska Lukwiya from Uganda, Okot Odhiambo from Uganda and Dominic Ongwen also from Uganda. The rest are Bosco Ntaganda from DRC, Ahmed Haroun from Darfur, Ali Kushayb also from Darfur, and Omar Al Bashir from Sudan. All thirteen of the indicted individuals have been charged with war crimes, and eleven of them have also been charged with crimes against humanity.

A careful look at the list of the people indicted by the ICC reveals that all those indicted are Africans. This has raised a number of questions and concern that the court is targeting Africans or has been established purposely to deal with the third world. These claims appear to hold water and become weightier when one looks at what has gone on and continue to go on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Gaza, Sri Lanka and other parts of the world. The lack of action on the part of the International Criminal Court in pursuing perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, make observers of the ICC to conclude that it is bent on witch hunting the less powerful countries and actors such as Africans while leaving the powerful to do what they please.

For example the ICC's indictment of Omar Al Bashir raises questions as to why the Court has not indicted other individuals who might have committed similar offenses. If Omar Al Bashir is a war criminal then what about those who invaded, occupied, destroyed and killed Iraqis? We all know George Walker Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair and the hawks in their administrations invaded Iraq on a pack of lies; did not have UN mandate to invade and occupy Iraq and neither were they invited by the Iraqis. We also know today that the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction is also false. We are aware of the countless number of Iraqis who have died as a result of the invasion. We are aware of the total destruction of the country by the illegitimate and so called coalition forces. From the evidence gathered so far, is the ICC saying that there is no question to answer and that the invasion, occupation, the destruction of infrastructure, and the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and civilians was a just course and that the war did not violate any international law? Can the ICC tell the people of the world how different the prosecution of the war in Iraq is from those in Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo or Northern Uganda? What effort has the ICC made in securing prosecution against the perpetrators of the Iraq war? Are the ICC officials living on a different Planet?

Is the ICC aware of the continued insecurity in Iraq created by Bush, Tony Blair and Rumsfeld and the fact that most Iraqis today live in fear of their lives, and lack most basic necessities of life such as water and electricity? Is the ICC aware of the torture, humiliation and mistreatment of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib Prison and the fact that only low key officers were court marshalled by the US Army while the big fish continue to enjoy their life outside prison? How different is the estimated 655,000 Iraqi who have died so far and the estimated 300,000 Darfuris deaths?

Is the ICC not deliberately targeting Africans because they are financially poor, military weak and politically ill organised? How many African countries have the infrastructure to produce the millions of arms and weapons littered across the continent which are being used to kill and terrorise the people? What effort has the ICC made to prosecute the Western defence companies and contractors who have tend Africa into graveyards? What effort has the ICC made to prosecute the 85 companies who were implicated in a UN report of October 2002 for supplying arms to Uganda and Rwanda armies as well as to the 25 militia groups in DR Congo so that these companies could continue to meet the West insatiable appetite for technology, diamond, gold, coltan and timber? Is the ICC aware that the beneficiaries of the war in DR. Congo were named as Cabot Corporation, Eagle Wings Resources International, Trinitech International, Kemet Electronics Corporation, OM Group (OMG); and Vishay Sprague all of them companies in the USA? Why is it that those who finance the wars have not been arrested and prosecuted by the ICC? Is it because they are white and from the West? Is indicting the Africans who are the foot soldiers and leaving the arms suppliers and financiers in the West not selective justice?

Is the ICC saying that the extraordinary rendition or secrete CIA prisons in Cuba, Morocco, Egypt and Thailand where presumed enemies of the West are arrested, tortured, imprisoned without trial; denied access to their lawyers and families are not violation of international law? If in the eyes of the ICC the conduct of the war in Iraq and its aftermath are just and that Bush, Rumsfeld, Tony Blair and the CIA did not commit crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression against the Iraqi people then why has the CIA destroyed 92 tapes believed to be containing evidence of torture and war crimes against Iraqis, Afghans and other so called war-on-terror suspects? Has the ICC deduced anything from the destruction of the tapes? Are Bush and his associates not destroying evidence that might incriminate them? What has the ICC got to say about that or is it because the destruction of the tapes did not happen in Africa it is outside its jurisdiction? The recent release of some Guantanamo detainees including Binyam Mohamed and their claim of being tortured collaborate the report that the CIA destroyed the tapes in order to protect Bush, members of his administration and CIA agents from prosecution. Doesn't the large number of videotapes destroyed confirm to ICC that the CIA was trying to hide evidence of intense torture and possible deaths of suspects in detention, if so then is it not a criminal offence against international law to torture and destroy evidence of the crime?

If the ICC is not deliberately targeting Africa then why is it that the court has not said anything about the invasion, occupation and the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan? Like Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been killed; the infrastructure of the country destroyed; and the people live in constant fear of their lives, all in the name of war-on-terror. What does the invasion, occupation, destruction of infrastructure and the indiscriminate killing of innocent children, women and civilians in Afghanistan amount to?

If the ICC is not targeting Africans then what justification has it got not to indict the leadership of the Israeli government for the utter destruction of Gaza; the killing of more than1300 people; as well as the over 5300 who were injured in the 22 day air, sea and ground assault on Gaza. At least 4000 homes were destroyed and more than 50, 000 people were rendered homeless. UN and Red Crescent facilities, schools, mosques, hospitals and power installations were deliberately and systematically targeted and destroyed. Medical personnel were shot at as they tried to evacuate the injured and the dead; the seriously injured were prevented from leaving Gaza to receive medical care abroad and weapons that should not be used in populated areas were used. There were no discrimination between civilians, Police personnel and their facilities and Palestinian fighters as bombs were rained on everyone everywhere. Gaza today is the biggest prison in the world with the people in dire need of food, water, electricity and medicines. Are those collective punishment not war crimes? The fact that the Israeli government put together a team of lawyers headed by the Justice Minister to defend the soldiers should charges be brought against any of them, is an indication that even the Israelis believe their actions were tantamount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. When the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman in the person of Mark Regev was asked by an Aljazeera broadcaster on the use of white phosphorous in densely populated areas in Gaza, his response was that the Israeli Army did not use any weapons that the Americans, Canadians, British and the NATO forces did not use or are not using in Iraq and Afghanistan which is to say if we are guilty then they might be guilty as well. What justification has the ICC got not to indict the Israeli leadership?

Is the ICC saying that Russian leaders did not commit war crimes in their conduct of the wars in Chechnya? Or those crimes have been ignored because it is another crime committed by leaders of another untouchable superpower?

Again are the Swiss government and the banking institutions in that country not guilty of crimes against humanity for keeping billions of dollars of stolen monies meant for the welfare of humanity? And how about the governments of Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, France and Jersey Islands and their banking institutions who have become well off through monies stolen from the poorest of the poor? Is the ICC saying keeping billions of dollars of stolen money meant for the welfare of the people not a crime against humanity? Or the ICC has closed her eyes and ears because the institutions and corporations involved are of Western origin?

There have been a number of calls mostly in the West for Robert Mugabe to be put on trial for not providing the medicines needed to fight the cholera epidemic that is ravaging Zimbabwe. The question is if Mugabe should be put on trial then how about UBS in Switzerland which is keeping the money that could have been used by the people themselves to buy the medicines?

If Americans are calling for Bush, Rumsfeld and some Pentagon officials to be prosecuted for sending Americans to die in vain and for ordering detainees to be tortured then what is the ICC doing? What is the war on terror telling the ICC; what is the indiscriminate killing of children, women and civilians and the daily violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan telling the ICC? Has the ICC got different sets of rules for the third world and another for the so called developed world?

Is the US not culpable for selling or donating military machines that Israel used and continue to use to destroy Palestinian homes and kill unarmed civilians? If there is anyone on earth who has to stand before the ICC to answer charges of war crimes and crime against humanity shouldn't it be Bush, Blair and Donald Rumsfeld. But will the ICC ever dream of putting Bush on trial for illegally invading, occupying, destroying Iraq and creating one of the serious humanitarian crises ever to hit the Middle East in recent times? Is leaving Bush and his cronies and indicting Omar Al Bashir and the other foot soldiers in Africa not selective justice?

Is the ICC's silence on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Chechnya and the wider war on terror not vindicating her critics that the ICC is there to prosecute Africans and third world countries and not war aggressors from the West like Bush, Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, Putin; the corrupt banking, oil, defence, and technology cartels in Europe, North America, Japan and China who provide most of the funding for the wars and instabilities in Africa?

If those indicted in Africa have committed any crime surely they must face the consequences of their actions but it will also be an incomplete justice if those supplying the weapons and bankrolling the conflicts are allowed to go unpunished. I do not accept any law or any notion that make certain people who commit crimes untouchable while others are pursued vigorously for committing the same crime. If we want the world to be peaceful for all mankind to live in and pass it on to future generations, then institutions like the ICC tasked with ensuring that peace should not be biased or partial or perceived to be biased towards a certain class of the earth's citizens.

No one should be treated or made to feel he or she is above international law when it comes to things that matter to the whole world such as human rights. No nation no matter her economic or military capabilities should be treated differently when it breaks international law. No individual no matter the office that he holds should be exempted from prosecution if he breaks international law and that includes Unites States and her allies. It is by upholding this principle that the ICC will be seen to be impartial and unbiased. For what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.

By Lord Aikins Adusei

Lord Aikins Adusei
Lord Aikins Adusei, © 2009

This author has authored 133 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: LordAikinsAdusei

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