Wednesday, October 26, 2016

African States Withdrawal From ICC Is a 'Sovereign Issue' - Top AU Official
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban

An African Union (AU) official says the body cannot comment on the issue of the decision of some countries to withdraw their membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC). He said, the exit move was purely a ‘sovereign issue’ by the respective countries.

The spokesperson of the current AU chairperson, Jacob Enoh Eben, in a series of tweets on Wednesday however stated that the AU has expressed itself on the double standards of the ICC and also insisted that the fight against impunity in Africa should be by Africans.

The AU official pointed to the Hissene Habre trial which was conducted by an Extraordinary African Chambers, set up by the AU in Senegal, on May 30. The ex Chadian president was sentenced life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. He was also asked to pay compensation running into millions of euros to his victims.

Habre’s trial was the first time an AU-backed court had tried a former ruler for human rights abuses.

In less than three weeks, three African countries have initiated modalities to leave the Rome Statute that established the Hague-based court. It started with Burundi last week, South Africa joined late last week.

On Tuesday, the Gambia also disclosed that they had decided to leave especially citing the fact that the court was targeting Africans whiles seemingly overlooking equally grevious crimes by European governments.

“This action is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called the International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans,” Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said on state television.

“There are many Western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single Western war criminal has been indicted,” it said.

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