The African states ask­ing to exit the in­ter­na­tional court have not put proper le­gal struc­tures in place to pro­tect the masses from vi­o­lence, per­se­cu­tion, tor­ture and im­punity

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices - REGI­NALD NALUGALA In­de­pen­dent re­searcher

Re­cent re­quests by some African coun­tries to pull out of the ICC have raised con­cerns over their mo­tives. Some have ar­gued the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court is bi­ased against African states. The ex­cuse has al­ways been that most of the pow­er­ful Western na­tions, which push for the ICC, are not even mem­bers. Why should African lead­ers then be hu­mil­i­ated by ap­pear­ing be­fore a for­eign court?

That might hold wa­ter. But if you look at the USA, the UK and a num­ber of other Western coun­tries, you can’t com­pare their le­gal sys­tems with Africa’s. These are states where one can go to court, seek jus­tice and it will be served within a rea­son­able pe­riod. A Pres­i­dent will be im­peached and his or her tribes­men will not hold demos de­mand­ing ‘their man to be left alone’. Their po­lit­i­cal par­ties are well or­gan­ised and dis­ci­plined.

Back to Africa, most of the coun­tries are not even sig­na­to­ries to the Pro­to­col to the African Char­ter on Hu­man and Peo­ples’ Rights on the es­tab­lish­ment of African court on hu­man and peo­ple’s rights. Of the 54 coun­tries, only 30 have rat­i­fied the doc­u­ment.

Western coun­tries went through a pe­riod of great sac­ri­fice fo­cussing on the na­tion-state, un­like the eth­nic el­e­ment found in Africa:This is where when lead­ers get to power, it is their turn to eat.

In the West, lead­ers work for the coun­try not for cer­tain peo­ple. The dis­tri­bu­tion and shar­ing of the na­tional cake is ex­pressed in their al­most per­fect wel­fare sys­tem. The home­less are taken care of, the job­less pro­vided with shel­ter and the sick are of­fered free med­i­cal care.

There is a clear au­dit of politi­cians’ wealth. Po­lit­i­cal par­ties can­not de­mand or so­licit money from the elec­torate. No party should have un­due ad­van­tage over the other. Re­cently, the Labour Party in Bri­tain was pun­ished for un­de­clared elec­tion spend­ing dur­ing the 2015 cam­paigns. On this side of the world, le­gal sys­tems work. Pres­i­dents hand over power when their terms end.

The African states ask­ing to exit the ICC have not put proper le­gal struc­tures in place to pro­tect the pub­lic from per­se­cu­tion, tor­ture, in­dis­crim­i­nate seizure of prop­erty, jail­ing of po­lit­i­cal ri­vals, money laun­der­ing, abuse of power and im­punity.

Univer­sity stu­dents in South Africa have been protest­ing against in­creased school fees. They also wanted Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to re­turn the money he took from the state to re­fur­bish his ru­ral home KwaZulu-Na­tal. They said the money could help fill in the bud­get gaps in uni­ver­si­ties with­out pun­ish­ing them. [The Pres­i­dent has since re­turned Sh800 mil­lion].

Gam­bia has had a dic­ta­tor for over 20 years. The coun­try is ruled with a heavy hand.

The coun­tries push­ing to exit the ICC are not do­ing so through a ref­er­en­dum. They wouldn’t dare.In Kenya, the idea was shelved when the gov­ern­ment re­alised the main­stream churches and the cit­i­zens were not for the idea. The Church in Kenya has al­ways sided with the poor, the marginalised and those who seek jus­tice: More like the moth­ers of de­tainees of the 1980s and 1990s. The 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion is an off­shoot of this strug­gle: To pro­tect the lib­er­ties of the poor and the rich alike.

Sec­ond, the main­stream churches are uni­ver­sal. Their fol­low­ing is not con­fined to Kenya. The mis­sion­ary groups that work here come from all over the world. It is, there­fore, easy to lobby the gov­ern­ments against the idea to with­draw.

The Catholic Church, for in­stance, sits at the UN and its or­gans. It sup­ports in­ter­na­tion­al­ism. The plight of mi­grants has cap­tured its at­ten­tion. Pope Fran­cis has been on the front line lead­ing by ex­am­ple. Most of these mi­grants have es­caped from coun­tries that have ig­nored the rule of law. The Church can­not, there­fore, sup­port the exit from the ICC. So what do these coun­tries re­ally want? The ver­dict is: To exit the ICC will mean to exit the UN. Who wants to exit the UN?


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