Saying NO to the ICC is saying YES to atrocities
Government has just announced that it will spend K2 million on a consultative process to ask the people whether or not Zambia should leave the International Criminal Court (ICC). What a waste of money! The answer is no! Zambia will not leave the ICC. The ICC is a world body designed to prosecute those who commit the gravest atrocities, but a group of African leaders believe the ICC is influenced by its, mainly European, funding countries to the detriment of, well… African leaders. The spectacle culminated in February, when the African Union adopted a strategy for – voluntary – mass-withdrawal from the ICC. However, a closer look reveals that this is driven by a rather small group of countries:
South Africa, the first country to officially apply to leave the ICC, has just withdrawn its application, after a court declared it unconstitutional and invalid. South Africa fell out with the ICC after it allowed Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to visit.
Gambia – under former president-cum-dictator Yahya Jammeh Bostwana – was also for a withdrawal, but all that changed under new president Adama Barrow.
Kenya, a vocal critic of the ICC, after it began looking into President Uhuru Kenyatta‘s role in post-election violence that claimed over a thousand lives in 2007, is currently too busy preparing for a general election in August to bother about the ICC.
Burundi is the joker in the pack. After the UN infuriated President Pierre Nkurunziza by accusing officials of orchestrating torture and killing of political opponents, Nkurunziza actually signed a decree in October 2016 for Burundi to leave the ICC, but nothing has been heard since.
Other countries in support of withdrawal from the ICC include Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe, many of which, but not all, have a rather strained relationship with democracy.
The ICC should certainly not give an impression of honky-dory-ness – if this is not the case. If the world body is biased, the African “uprising” will hopefully comprise the catalysts for reforms. However, reforms can best be achieved from the inside out. Leaving the ICC serves no purpose.
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly