Should Africa Withdraw from ICC?

BY: Mapuor Malual Manguen, JUBA, MAY/28/2013, SSN;

On Sunday, African Presidents supported a petition calling on the International Criminal Court to drop crimes against humanity charges facing President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya. President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are charged at the ICC in connection with the 2007 post-election violence in which 1,300 died and over 500,000 others displaced. The leaders want the trials brought back to the national courts.

However, the Western-backed human rights groups considered demand by the African leaders as an attempt to shield Kenyan leaders from justice. Apart from Botswana’s President, 53 presidents supported the motion to send back Kenya cases. Botswana President argues that the ICC should be allowed to handle the case in accordance with its mandate.

The concept that ICC is targeting African leaders is gaining momentum in the continent. ICC has issued arrest warrants for the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and three other senior officials in his government. The Hague based Court is also pursuing cases in DR Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Uganda, and Libya.

Former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo is detained in the Hague on electoral related violence in 2011 during which he refused to concede defeat to his main rival and election winner, Allasane Ouattara. Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor is serving 50-year-jail term after he was found guilty of abating crimes committed in neighboring Sierra Leone. His trial was conducted at the Hague after he was arrested in Nigeria and extradited to Netherlands.

Crimes against humanity committed in other parts of the world such as Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine perpetrated by Israel, America, Britain and their NATO allies did not attract ICC despite the fact that these cases are of the same magnitude or higher than cases investigated in Africa. African leaders use this as justification of the West using ICC to target them. So the question is should Africa withdraw from ICC? If so, are Africa’s local courts capable of trying such cases fairly and independently…?

It is not uncommon in most African states that the ruling elites use judiciary to rubberstamp maladministration cases in their favor. This led to a decayed judiciary in Africa. In any case, electoral related violence is the major challenge for judiciaries in this continent. Apparently, losers do not solve electoral disputes in courts of law; they choose street violence. The government has to send its security squads to clear streets of these rioters. The result is death of civilians and crimes against humanity. And this is how ICC comes in and net African leaders.

Of course, African leaders when they are in their club called African Union can say anything to exert their full authority over affairs of the continent. They can call for mass withdrawal from ICC as Sudan’s Bashir demanded. But will the said withdrawal bring the badly needed independence judiciary lacking in majority African countries?

African leaders are correct to condemn unfair hands and monkey business of the ICC. Their point is genuine as corroborated by facts surrounding ICC dealings with continent vis-à-vis crimes against humanity cases committed in other continents by superpowers.

However, if this argument is to carry Africa’s populace weight, African leaders should equally work to ensure respect for independence of judiciary of local national courts in the continent. They should cease using AU as Club for abating bad governance. The AU must be an organization for progress of African people and an avenue where problems facing people of this continent should be discuss for benefits of all.

The author is Journalist and Columnist based in Juba


  1. Dau-network says:

    Thanks Mapour
    Africans should form their court (Court of Africa continent) (CAC) if they are capable to manage their affairs.
    Big fish can’t be caught by nets that is what going around the western world and their allies.

  2. + says:

    your article makes sense.
    The idea that ICC is a Western court and is going after African leaders for this is baseless. Majority of African leaders are not bound by the laws in their countries. Those who incited tribal violence and crime against humanity will try to do everything in their capacity to convince other leaders to cooperate with them. Some of the leaders who supported this motion have conditions that if they failed not to comply with the agenda it will be at their own risk.

    Africans reject ICC but they need western assistance in form of money food, or guns to kill their own people. what a bizarre idea. There are a lot of humanitarian crisis all over Africa but what AU done is nothing and I witness that from Sudan’s civil war between South and North Sudan.

    Now my question is that would Africa leaders pursued rebel leaders who commit crime against humanity and bring them to justice like Ismail Kony or they will leave the door open for the ICC to pursued them?. Are African leaders going to be honest among themselves and their citizens in executing the laws?

  3. Dr. Akumadit says:

    We should not withdraw from the recognised court because it is the eye of innocent people who suffer most of what they don’t know. That voice of withdrawal from International Criminal Court belongs to only incumbent leaders who believe in assassinating their fellow citizens who even give them vote to lead for long time. I support ICC forever, because it professional, fairly without interference.

    Dr. Akumadit,
    Chicago, USA

  4. Pastor Andrew Henry says:

    I think the African Nations have made a good argument in regards to withdrawing from the ICC. However, what they failed to convince the ICC and the people of Africa is how effective they would be able to prosecute our rogue leaders. I think what they are doing is self serving and not something to benefit their people. Look at what Omer Al Bashir have been doing to the people of South Sudan. Which African Nations have stood up against his atrocities? I commend the leadership of Botswana for its consistent opposition to rogue leaderships in Africa. Until African leaders understand Democracy and the rule of law, there would be nothing the people would gain from such withdrawal.

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