Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who recently completed a one-year term as the chairman of the African Union, has called for the establishment of an African International Criminal Court that will try Europeans who commit serious crimes against humanity.
A Zimbabwean newspaper, The Chronicle, quoted President Mugabe as saying that it was time Africa established its own ICC to help seek justice for serious war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the West, especially during the colonial times.
“They committed crimes, colonial crimes galore – the slaughter of our people and all that imprisonment. I have a case. Why was I imprisoned for 11 years? We forgave them, but perhaps we have not done ourselves justice. You set up the ICC; we set our ICC to try Europeans, to try Mr. George Bush and Mr. Tony Blair,” Mugabe said.
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This comes amidst questions about fairness at the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague, Netherlands, over what some African leaders say is discrimination against African countries.
The International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court was established under the Rome Statute and is the first permanent, treaty-based international court. It was established in July 1998 with the aim of fighting impunity by prosecuting perpetrators of serious crimes that are of concern to the international community.
The court, whose headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands, is completely independent and although it is funded by member states, it largely survives on voluntary contributions from governments, individuals, corporations and international organizations. ICC is composed of four main organs, which include the Presidency, judicial divisions, office of the prosecutor and the registry.
Situations and Cases
Since its establishment, the International Criminal Court has handled 23 cases in 10 situations, nine of which are from Africa. Currently, the court is handling several cases involving Africans from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Central African Republic.
Since 2010, six Kenyans including the incumbent Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have been facing charges of crimes against humanity that were committed in 2007/2008 following a disputed presidential election. All six cases came to a close on April 5 of this year after the deputy president William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang were acquitted.
Many African leaders have accused the ICC of subjectivity in prosecuting serious crimes, arguing that the court only seems to focus its attention to African states questioned turning a blind eye to the West and other developed countries.