When Africa leaves the ICC, who will seek justice for her millions? Asks Arthur K

BY: Dr. Arthur K. Kennedy
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir engage in a tete a tete during a meeting in Kampala PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The long threatened abandonment of the ICC by Africa is underway. Burundi, South Africa and Gambia have announced that they are leaving, with more departures expected.

According to African leaders, the court has unfairly targeted African leaders and has not shown respect for the dignity of African leaders. 

They cite, amongst other things the fact that 9 of 10 current investigations are focused on Africa. Since its formation, the court has prosecuted some of Africa's most notorious killers, including Charles Taylor and Joseph Kony. It has issued indictments against, amongst others, Sudan's Omar al Bashir and Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta.

Do the African leaders have a point? Maybe.

But their focus on dignity ignores the fundamental question of justice for the African people. Since the departure of colonialism, African leaders have been killing Africans at an alarming rate. 

Indeed, one of these days, we will pass the point where Africa's post-independent leaders would have murdered more Africans than the colonialists-- if we have not already. The wall of shame has many names--- Amin, Mengistu, Nguema, the Interahamwe, Charles Taylor and Abacha, to mention just a few. 

Amidst all the outcry about dignity, where is the cry for justice? When Africa leaves the ICC, who will seek justice for the millions of Africans whose lives have been cut short by men of violence and impunity? 

While the complaints that American and other Western leaders and soldiers are not subject to the ICC is valid, they have strong judicial systems that can hold their leaders to account. US President Nixon resigned and the soldiers who committed crimes in Iraq were punished. 

The AU arguments remind me of the villager who beats his wife and complains when he is summoned to the palace that he is being unfairly targeted because his neighbour, who also beats his wife has not been summoned! 

If African leaders stop abusing their people, the ICC indictments will stop. Let the ICC continue. Without them, who shall restrain the bullies on our continent? The AU should focus on the victims, not the perpetrators.


Arthur K