ICC is about justice, not race – Desmond Tutu

via ICC is about justice, not race – Cape Times | IOL.co.za by Desmond Tutu

African leaders behind the move to extract the continent from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are effectively seeking a licence to kill, maim and oppress their people without consequences.

They are saying that African leaders should not allow the interests of the people to get in the way of their personal ambitions. Being held to account interferes with their ability to act with impunity to achieve their objectives. Those who get in their way – their victims – should remain faceless and voiceless.

They are arguing that the golden rule of reciprocity – do unto others as you would have them do to you – should not apply to them. And nor should any legal system.

But they know that they cannot say these things in public, so they say that the ICC is racist.

At first glance, when one tallies the number of African leaders versus European and North American leaders prosecuted by the court, their argument appears as if it might be plausible. When one considers the facts, however, one quickly realises that the number of Africans put on trial is an indictment of leadership and democracy in some African countries, not of the court.

Africa has suffered the consequences of unaccountable leaders for too long to allow itself to be hoodwinked in this manner.

When thousands of people are murdered and displaced in any country one would hope, in the first instance, that that country’s own systems of justice and fairness would kick in to right the wrongs.

But when that country is unwilling or unable to restore justice, who should represent the interests of the victims? Those behind the call to extract Africa from the ICC say: Nobody.

The ICC was established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The Rome Statute that established the court provided victims with the opportunity to have their voices heard and to obtain, where appropriate, reparation for their suffering.

The roll call of African leaders being summoned by the ICC to face justice is growing. President Bashir of Sudan has been charged with crimes against humanity in Darfur, and now President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya face similar charges for brutal violence against their own people following their election to office.

Those accused of crimes proclaim their innocence and vilify the institution as racist and unjust, as Hermann Göring and his comrades vilified the Nuremberg Court that put Nazi leaders on trial following World War II.

Worse still, today and tomorrow at the African Union Summit, Kenya will attempt to lead the continent in pulling Africa out of the ICC. This would be a grave blow to the rule of law and the memories of the millions of people that have suffered in the refugee camps of Darfur, and the villages of Congo and Cote D’Ivoire.

Right now, thousands of people from across the planet are joining a campaign hosted by Avaaz, an international advocacy organisation, calling on Africa’s leaders to stay in the ICC and stand behind international justice and what it means for so many vulnerable citizens everywhere. They represent our global commitment to working together to make the future brighter and safer for the next generations.

The eight matters brought before the ICC were without exception initiated by African countries and their leaders. There was no witch-hunt or imposition, the judges and investigators were invited in.

So while the rhetoric of leaders at the African Union may play both the race and colonial cards, the facts are clear. Far from being a so-called “white man’s witch hunt”, the ICC could not be more African if it tried. More than twenty African countries helped to found the ICC. Of 108 nations that initially joined the ICC, thirty are in Africa. Five of the court’s eighteen judges are African, as is the Vice President of the court. The chief prosecutor of the court, who has huge power over which cases are brought forward, is from Africa. The ICC is, quite literally, Africa’s court.

Leaving the ICC would be a tragedy for Africa for three clear reasons.

First, without justice, countries can attack their neighbours or minorities in their own countries with impunity. Two years ago, when the warlord Thomas Lubunga was arrested to face charges of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers, the threat of the ICC undermined his support from other militia. In Cote D’Ivoire, since Laurent Gbagbo was taken to face justice in The Hague, the country has been able to rebuild. Human Rights Watch reported that national radio and television stations switched messages of hatred to appeals for restraint when the ICC threatened to intervene. Without this court, there would be no brake on the worst excesses of world leaders. And these violent leaders continue to plague Africa: The Great Lakes, Mali, northern Nigeria and Egypt all give reason for concern. Perpetrators of violence must not be allowed to wriggle free.

Second, without justice there can be no peace. In South Africa, the scars of apartheid are still deep and painful and it has taken a long process of truth and reconciliation for these wounds to begin to heal. In Kenya, the rioting and killing across the Rift Valley will take a long time to resolve, with communities pitted against each other and tension and division remaining. Put simply, where justice and order is not restored there can be no healing, leaving violence and hatred ticking like a bomb in the corner.

Third, as Africa finds its voice in world affairs, it should be strengthening justice and the rule of law, not undermining it. Everyone has a duty to adhere to these principles; they are part of global collective responsibility, not a menu we can choose from as and when it suits us.

The alternatives are too painful: revenge, like what happened in Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia; or blanket amnesty, a national commitment to amnesia like what happened in Chile. The only way any country can deal with its past is to confront it.

We need loud voices in Addis Ababa to deliver the message of the world’s people, to shout down those that want us to do nothing. At the front we need the heavyweight champions of Africa – South Africa and Nigeria – to exercise their leadership and stop those that don’t like the rules from attempting to re-write them. If Africa’s democracies truly believe in justice and the rule of law, they must stand up against this attempt by their least democratic brothers and sisters to undermine those values.

Today’s meeting is a contest between justice and brutal violence. Far from a fight between Africa and the West, this is a fight within Africa, for the soul of the continent.

May righteous Africans raise their voices and affirm the ICC and the rule of law.

l The Avaaz petition started by Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Tutu can be signed at secure.avaaz.org/en/ justice_for_africa_icc/


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    African murderers now congrigating in that donated mansion in Ethiopia must be held to account. They must not be allowed to wriggle free of their attrocities.

    Africa has suffered Amini, Mobutu, Bokasa, Mugabe, Gbabgo, Kamuzu, Siad Bare etc. These must be brought to account.

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    Phyllis Wheeler 11 years ago

    Why can’t Africa have more Desmond Tutu’s – the continent would be a better, safer and richer place.

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    George Shambare 11 years ago

    A message inspired by God

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    mkhululiszu333@gmail.com 11 years ago

    ENkosi tata Tutu. There can be no other truth better than this. Murderers hide behind being black yet some like Mugabe and his justice minister are themselves known berutal tribalists.

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    Etienne Venter 11 years ago

    Here we go again,some of most ruthless dictators in Africa are trying to get out of the clutches of the ICC.
    They should be tried and if found guilty should be executed, the same day, no appeal, they way they have murdered their victims for their own game.
    Africa cannot get ahead with these kinds of people, supposedly in charge.
    Why is it that Africa has such ‘richness’ in minerals and people starve and have no……??????????????????? It is run by a bunch of pigs!

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    kalanga maestro 11 years ago

    tutu at it again, the rich and very assertive bishop, this oke sure don’t know anything about this conniving icc, I am not a Mugabe disciple, but tutu is the most stupid, evil bishop Africa has, I know why don’t question it

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    Charles Chamunorwa 11 years ago

    Tutu is 100% correct. These dictators have compromised justice systems in their countries. They destroyed the SADC Tribunal and now they are heading to the ICC. Let’s say NO to that. Remember no one was tried for gukurahundi, murambatsvina, 2008 elections etc

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    Terry Hwesa 11 years ago

    If Uhuru and Ruto are innocent( I haven’t heard them claim so) let them have their day in court.

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    Chivulamapoti 11 years ago

    Kalanga, you need to spend more time in educating yourself, rather than ranting here about Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Your spelling, grammar and syntax are Kindergarten by standard.
    Now, to Mugarbage. This animal is a murderer, thief, despot, liar, black-mailer, adulterous and Malawian.
    I propose we start a Petition to have him arrested and sent to face the Hague Tribunal in the Netherlands, before Satan calls him. Anyone in agreement.

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    Clifford Chitupa Mashiri 11 years ago

    I agree with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, ICC is not about race. African dictators are trying to escape accountability. You just need to look at the rising death toll at Lampedusa – where boats carrying hundreds of Somalis and Eritreans fleeing their countries have been involved in tragic accidents.

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    Clifford Chitupa Mashiri 11 years ago

    I also agree with Chivulamapoti’s suggestion of a petition to get Mugabe arrested and sent to the Hague and face trial for crimes against humanity. Incredibly, I read today that the Zanu-PF regime reportedly refusing to give decent burials of Gukurahundi victims because they it runs the risk of including people who do not deserve the privilege, Home Affairs deputy minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was quoted as saying (See Southerneye). What a thing to say after murdering people in cold blood.

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    G.u.kurahundi upbringing 11 years ago

    Tata Tutu, sithi enkosi, uthetha inyani Tat’omkhulu.

    Africa is dominated by tribalistic leaders. Leaders who use their own tribal majorities to pursue vindictive politics in this 21st century.

    Why do you think in Zimbabwe, massacres of as recent as the 1980s are always juxtaposed against pre-historical, pre-colonial events such as the primitive tribal wars, which were no exception to Zimbabwe but where common all over Africa. Even globally speaking, these tribal wars have been part of human development be it in Europe, the Americas, Asia etc.

    These primitive politicians teach young people divisive politics about these wars, so they can retain power at all costs. They should all face the music at the Hague and just shut up!!

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    Nicoletta Fagiolo 11 years ago

    Why support the ICC, Europe’s Guantanamo bay? read this interesting book which highlights how the ICC is less transparent and has less rights for the Defence than Guantanamo Bay! http://www.africaresearchcentre.org/
    Details on the Laurent Gbagbo pre-trial which I have called Orientalism in Africa here http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000022250
    Some details on who Laurent Gbagbo actually is http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000022184

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