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AU discusses possible pull-out of the ICC

From BBC
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta

( 12/ 2013) Member countries of the African Union, (AU ) at the start of a Special Summit, are discussing a possible pull-out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The International Criminal Court is treating Africa unfairly, a senior African Union official has said. Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the court was targeting Africa and Africans.

The two-day summit comes as Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, is due to face trial at the court in The Hague next month. President Kenyatta denies charges of organizing violence after the 2007 elections.

“Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people”

On Thursday, Mr Kenyatta again asked for the charges to be dismissed.

He, along with some other African leaders, argued that a serving president should not be made to face trial.

The ICC has rejected a previous request that he be allowed to give evidence by video link. His Deputy, William Ruto, faces similar charges, which he also denies.

His trial was postponed for a week last month to allow him return home to help deal with the terroristic attack on the Westgate Shopping Centre.

Mr. Tedros, who is the current Chairman of the AU's Executive Council, said the ICC was "condescending" towards Africa.

"Far from promoting justice and reconciliation... the court has transformed itself into a political instrument targeting Africa and Africans. This unfair and unjust treatment is totally unacceptable," he said.

Mr. Tedros said the ICC had failed to respond to the African Union's previous complaints and suggested that the issue be referred to the UN Security Council.

Kenya's Foreign Minister has denied initial reports that it is lobbying for the African Union to call on all member states to withdraw from the ICC.

Political analysts say several East African nations favor such a move, while less support is said to be coming from West Africa.

Botswana has also publicly supported the court, while South Africa's governing African National Congress ANC has voiced criticism.

Thirty-four of the AU's 54 members have signed up to the ICC. If a large number of the 34 African countries were to pull out, it would be a huge blow to the ICC, which has 122 members.

Kenya's parliament had passed a motion for the country to withdraw from the ICC.

Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has said withdrawing from the Court would be a "badge of shame."
Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has also voiced his support for the ICC.

"Those leaders seeking to skirt the Court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence. They believe the interests of the people should not stand in the way of their ambitions of wealth and power,"

Tutu  wrote in an article published by several newspapers.

"They simply vilify the institution as racist and unjust, as Hermann Goering and his fellow Nazi defendants vilified the Nuremberg tribunals, following World War II," he wrote.

All eight of the cases currently at the ICC are in Africa, but it is also investigating possible cases elsewhere (not mentioned).

ICC in brief:

The ICC, set up in 2002 in The Hague, the Netherlands, deals with genocides, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crime of aggression.

The Court, ratified by 121 countries, including 34 in Africa, is headed by a Gambian national, Fatou Bensouda, as Chief Prosecutor.

Democratic Republic of Congo Militia Leader, Thomas Lubanga, is the only person to be convicted so far.

The ICC has investigated cases in Uganda, DR Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Mali and Cote D’Ivoire.


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