FLEEING ICC IS LIKE QUITTING UN
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
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?
IN THE WEST, LEADERS WORK FOR THE COUNTRY NOT FOR CERTAIN PEOPLE