Friday, 5 February 2010

ICC -- Who’s next?

I have always wondered if the International criminal court (ICC) is a fair organisation and what criteria it uses when selecting individuals who can be put before it‘s judges in the Hague.

There are increasing calls world wide for both former President Bush and Pri-minister Blair to face the ICC for wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan; resulting in the death and the displacement of thousands of people.

It defies belief that powerful individuals of the world can not be questioned let a lone brought before the International courts; raising serious concerns as to the effectiveness of the court and damaging further; the courts credibility as a fair, just and transparent organisation from the eyes of common concerned citizens of the World.

The ICC up until recently was labelled a white elephant costing millions of US Dollars annually and failing to yielding any tangible results. The ICC gained some respectability in 1999; when Slobodan Milosevic was indicted and convicting for atrocities against Serbian forces in Kosovo.

In 2003 a vocal and boisterous court; in its ambitious move to date, captured Charles Taylor charging him with crimes against people of Sierra Leone. Taylor’s rebel group captured and drugged children; who in turn chopped off the arm and limbs of innocent citizens during a 10 year brutal war. Taylor’s trial in the Hague has attracted world wide attention and intrigue. With growing concerns on both sides of political and public opinion vented in favour or against the ICC to try an EX- President.

The ICC with momentum has gone one step further since its formation. The Charging of Omar Al- Bashir a Sitting President of Sudan; with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation against the people of Darfur. Claims of ethnic cleansing and State sponsored militia, resulted in the death, rape and murder of thousands of people.

The Arab League and the African Union had earlier requested that Omar Al- Bashir arrest warrant be suspended. Both institutions were fearful of knee-jerk reactions and reprisals against Aid agencies and the people of Darfur. Further questioning the Courts ability to thinks through ramification of its actions, the timing of its indictments and the effects on the ground of those who they would otherwise try to protect.

Omar Al- Bashir will receive ample support from Russia and China on this issue. In a symbolic gesture they will try to table an amendment to the charges or a delay to the proceedings at the United Nations Security Council. Bashir is unlikely to attract similar sentiment from the Western Nations whom would more than likely veto any such proposals.

Sudan like the United States of America (USA) is not a member of the ICC. A defiant Bashir refuses to recognise the court, claims that the ICC is in beach of International Law and has no jurisdiction in Sudan. This is an argument that has all the haul marks of double standards, justified on the basis that the USA also does not recognise the court and the court has no authority over any USA citizens.

Bashir is convinced that the ICC charges are politically motivated. The Sudanese government sights variation in the application and interpretation of the ICC own laws, has swiftly cancelled visa and deported Aid agencies namely Oxfam in the United Kingdom and Care in the USA.

Omar Al- Bashir is now a wanted man and he will have difficulties travelling outside of the African continent. If and when he does, he is likely to be arrested and taken to the Hague for trial. Within the African continent, African leaders will be more tolerant and reluctant to interfere with Omar Al- Bashir; fearful that some of them may be next in focus of the ICC.

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