On summer 2017, I and my colleague Aboubakr Jalloh were commissioned by our office to attend and cover a weekend conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, organized by Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Among our many interviews, we had an opportunity to have Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in our Facebook Live programm, and one of the questions I asked her was the famous (read infamous) cry amongst African leaders, the so-called anti-Africanism of the ICC.
“There is no truth of any anti-Africanism, against Africa, by the ICC. I talked about the establishment and the fact that the cases are coming from African governments (themselves), but I will also tell you about the personnel of the ICC. I am the chief prosecutor of the ICC and the last time I checked I am an African.” It was her response.
Last week, this topic came again on the light, not because of something new that happened, but rather by a little older interview between the Deutsche Welle’s Tim Sebastian and the then-Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who is now – satarically enough – heading the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.
In the interview, Mushikiwabo is speaking harshly against the ICC and almost everything that it represents and stands for. She presents herself as a strong Pan-Africanist against European-dominated entity, so to say. Again the question of anti-Africanism is raised and the Rwandan minister uses her public relations techniques to trade her well-tailored arguments.
“The International Criminal Court, from its own records of the work that has been done since the Rome Statute was adopted, shows clearly with no shadow of a doubt that it is a court created for Africans and it is used mostly by Europe to manipulate African politics.” She says, adding a question to Tim Sebastian if he had ever seen any light skin suspect on the ICC chambers. (I guess the Bosnians are less white for Ms. Mushikiwabo).
Who Plays Hypocricy?
Today, I got chance to listen again to these two intelligent African ladies. As said, nothing new has emerged since they were last interviewed on the issue – one in 2015 and another in 2017 – but a debate has re-emerged in some WhatsApp groups after Ms. Mushikiwabo’s clip was making some rounds.
For this public relation specialist who turned into a powerful politician, ICC is hypocrite because it does not take other races to the court of law, though they too have committed crimes against humanity, and sometimes even worse than the Africans.
One of our commentators while in Marrakesh, Rashid Abdullah, even came with a specific question: “Why is Blair not at the ICC?” He meant former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who himself has admitted that Iraq war was a terrible mistake.
If you look at this matter from a black-and-white angle, then you have an argument to question the ICC motives. But is it not a very narrow-minded approach?
Take, for example, these three facts: that African countries are making the biggest block in the ICC, that they have all signed the Rome Statute on their own will, and that those who have been sent to the court were the suspects for the crimes that have been committed against African people in African soil.
Of course, some of them, like Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto of Kenya, have managed to have their cases dropped due to some technical weaknesses on the prosecutors’ side, but that does not mean those 1,300 Kenyans were not killed or those 600,000 were not displaced in the post 2007 election violence.
Therefore, while it is true that other culprits should also be brought to justice, that does not excuse our African Draculas, who enjoy the taste of their brethren’s blood, from being brought to book.
If the ICC is another imperialist body that seeks to punish just people from Africa, what would have happened if these African draculas did not suck our blood? Would they still be prosecuted?
To me, the likes of Ms. Mushikiwabo are playing with our insticts. They know that we, Africans, are in love with the feelings of being free from colonial powers because we are bitter for what colonization did to our people. We will then buy any rhetoric that sounds patriotic to our old and new sufferings from the Western dominance in the world order. But they just play with that part of feelings.
There is no doubt that the ICC has its own shortfalls. So do many so-called international institutions – from the United Nations to International Monetary Fund to World Trade Organisation and etcetera and etcetera.
But this should not be an excuse for our rulers to do whatever they want against African population. They have already weakened our own judiciary systems to the point that it has now compromised to the power might be. They have no moral legitimacy, whatsoever, to question the works of the ICC. If they feel it anti-African and that sucks them, they should know what to do. Be respectful to human rights and freedom and take responsibility when something goes wrong under their control.
After all, as Besouda puts it they are the ones who signed our nations to the Rome Statute and they are the ones who are inviting the ICC to investigate. Why, once the investigations start to point fingers to them, do they turn to a smear campaign? Shame on them!