By Vivian E. Asedri
African governments need to take full responsibility for impunity and shielding mass murderers
One of the parables my village elders commonly use in their allegories to impact wisdom and morals to youths is: “Flies always go to where the stench of the rotten meat is.” The relevance of this parable as regards the actions of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to Africa is as succinct as it is irrefutable.
The hullabaloo from a section of African pundits and politicians about the ICC being “an unfair institution” and “only targeting Africans” is so deafening that one would think the argument is full of merit. To the contrary, African governments need to take full responsibility for the evolution of ICC because of their well-known impunity to shield suspected mass murderers in the name of Pan-Africanism. This makes the ICC the court of last resort for the voiceless.
As we welcome Fatou Bensoula of Gambia, the first African and female as ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, we as a continent need to take stock of our commitment to promotion of human rights and the independence of the judiciary.
With wanton mass civilian loss of life being the ultimate collateral damage to incessant and unquenched power struggles in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, Libya, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda, among others, can those who continue accusing the ICC of “targeting African leaders” confidently name any cases where judiciaries in these countries have successfully prosecuted the suspected perpetrators of mass civilian killings? Can they identify any independent judiciary worth its name that has brought the suspected offenders to book?
Ironically, with most of these countries being signatory to the United Nations Protocol that established ICC, is it not ludicrous for some of these countries’ leaders to continue hosting fellow African leaders indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity such as Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in the name of “Pan-Africanism?” If this is what Pan-Africanism means, its founding fathers like late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, late President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, late President Patrice Lumumba of DRC and late President Kwame Nkurumah of Ghana, and late President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt must be rolling in their graves!
Since there is no statute of limitations on murder cases globally, one valid interpretation of the impunity and disregard to the ICC Protocol could be that the current sitting African leaders who might be candidates to ICC try not to burn their bridges to exile when the time comes in the near future.
Those who keep accusing ICC of “only targeting African” leaders need to be reminded of the 2007 United Nations backed court in Cambodia that indicted surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and murder. The defendants Ieng Sary (84), his wife Ieng Thirith (78), Khieu Samphan (78), Nuon Chea (84), and Kaing Guek Eav were convicted for deaths of 1.7 million people by execution and starvation.
Besides, are the naysayers so amnesia-prone that they have blocked-off the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) which indicted Serbian Gen. Ratko Mladic and some of his special forces ‘Scorpions’ army officers for the 1995 and 1999 Srebrenica genocide of over 8,000 civilians in Bosnia & Herzegovina?
So when the ICC radar in Hague catches more candidates such as Liberia’s Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor, Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Ivory Coast’s ex-President Laurent Gbagbo, Uganda’s Joseph Kony and his officers, DRC’s Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, Rwanda’s Maj. Gen. Augustin Bizimungu, Jean-Paul Akayesu, Jean Kambanda, Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza, Kenya’s politicians Uhuru Kenyatta, Henry Kosgey, William Ruto, Fracis Muthaura, Joshua arap Sang and former police commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and Libya’s Abdullah al-Senussi and late Libyan leader Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, among other known suspected perpetrators of African mass civilian murders, it is only fair to say that the “Flies always go to where the stench of the rotten meat is.”
Again there is no statute of limitations for murder, so this ICC radar might soon catch more suspected leaders and their accomplices not only from the African continent but also Syria and beyond.
Vivian E. Asedri is a Medical information technologist in San Diego, California, USA.firstname.lastname@example.org