War crimes

International Criminal Court – does Africa need it?

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Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir visited South Africa last week to attend the African Union (AU) summit. Since South Africa has ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty, they were obliged to arrest Bashir once he entered the country. African Union, on the other hand, would provide him diplomatic immunity. Therefore the South African justice system had a dilemma to deal with. Bashir was given a notice of not being allowed to leave South Africa until a court decision is made whether South Africa can arrest him, but in the meantime Bashir fled the country. The ANC-led South African government vocally opposed arrest of Bashir. Why would they protect Bashir, who is being accused of rather serious crimes against humanity dating from Darfur crisis? Most African countries are against ICC nowadays even if the court was formed with the noble idea of bringing justice for the victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. All investigations by ICC have been in Africa (only preliminary investigations have taken place in other continents). This has led to the popular opinion that ICC has an anti-African agenda.

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