African leaders complain of bias at ICC as Kenya trials get underway

8 Dec

by Michael Birnbaum, The New York Times
Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory

THE HAGUE — There are eight cases and 21 defendants in front of the International Criminal Court, and every last one of them is from Africa. Now the continent’s leaders are debating whether that’s a problem.

The 11-year-old court of last resort was set up to take on some of the world’s most heinous crimes. But its choice of cases has frustrated African leaders, who say that comparable crimes elsewhere in the world are being ignored and that race is a factor in thedecision-making. With Kenya’s president and deputy president on trial, African leaders are pushing for changes that some ICC advocates say would undermine the court completely.

At stake is the future of a court whose creation was touted as a major breakthrough in ensuring that those who commit crimes against humanity do not escape justice — a dream that African nations, more than any other region in the world , signed up for. Now, however, the African Union is campaigning against the court, with some leaders voicing disillusionment and saying that justice does not seem to be equally applied around the globe.

Atrocities in Syria, Colombia and Afghanistan have gone unpunished, African leaders say, even as the U.N. Security Council was quick to authorize the ICC in 2011 to turn its attention to North Africa and take up work against Libya’s leaders at the time: Moammar Gaddafi, his sons and his intelligence chief.

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