Written by Nandemu Barasa
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The International Criminal Court- ICC has marked ten years since its inauguration in 2002. The court which has its headquarters in the Hague Netherlands was created following the requirements of the Rome Statute which was passed in 1998 in the Rome city.
Before that the world had witnessed a lot of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes to the extent that the whole world wanted to initiate a legal system that would deal with the vice and especially through ensuring that those who commit such crimes are brought to book.
The world had witnessed killings in the former Yugoslavia in early nineties and the Rwandan genocide that left many people dead. In several incidences the world had tried to deal with the crimes by forming local tribunals which later most world leaders began doubting their deliverance. That led to the convening of the Rome conference which gave birth to the Rome Statute and ICC later.
Over one hundred states participated in the conference including many African states. ICC could not be operational immediately because the Statute required ratification of at least sixty state parties before it could be operational.
On 1st July 2002, the requirement had been met and therefore, the court started its operations. We have had many questions as to why the court has its headquarters in the Hague, Netherlands despite Africa having the highest number of state parties and therefore, was the best to host the court but the founders of the court argue that by the time of its formation, it is only Netherlands that was willing to have the court on its land and promised to provide maximum security and all the requirements needed internationally.
Although ICC is marking a decade of its operations, there are many challenges and question that have been put against it. There is now a notion that the court is a western stuff and that it was created to merely punish African leaders. It is a very serious challenge that requires deeper explanation from the court bearing in mind that currently, the court is pursuing situations in seven African countries with some situations occurring in non state parties.
The court is going on with investigations in Libya, Uganda, and Central Republic of Africa, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Sudan and Kenya. All these are African states with Libya and Sudan being non state members to the Rome statute.
Note that Libya and Sudan situations were referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council as per the Rome Statute in relation to non state parties.
There are three ways by which investigations can be started by the Prosecutor in the ICC.
To start with the prosecutor can use his proprio motu powers provided in the Rome Statute to initiate investigations in situations in state parties. That was the case in the Kenyan situation and the Ivory Coast.
The second way of initiating investigations is by a state party requesting the court to conduct investigation in a situation like it was the case in Uganda where the government asked the court to look in to crimes committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The third way is through UN Security Council which can order investigations in any country including those ones who are not state parties. This was the case with Libya and Sudan.
Note that it has been very difficult for the Security Council to order investigations in Syria which is a non state party due to the differences between the five members with veto powers that is China, USA, Britain, Russia and France with some opposing such intentions. In that case ICC cannot do anything even if serious crimes are committed.
Outgoing ICC Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo (R) and incoming Prosecutor Mrs. Fatou Bensouda (L). [PHOTO|AP]
Back to the challenges of ICC, many African heads have openly opposed the court and even threatened to pull out of it arguing that it targets them and leave serious crimes in other areas to go on. However, the outgoing Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo and his successor Fatou Bensouda have called that propaganda and vowed that justice must prevail all the time.
The court also has to deal with the thinking that those who fund it highly dictate what is to be done. What brings in more questions is the fact that the most developed countries in the world such as USA and China are not state parties to the Rome Statute despite supporting the court’s operations fully.
Africa has the highest number of state parties who have ratified the Rome statute which is 33 countries. Senegal was the first to ratify the Statute with the latest being Cape Verde.
Court officials insist that the court is fair and only comes in where crimes within its jurisdiction have been committed and there is no willingness to pursue the suspects or the country is unable to take action. The say ICC is the last resort and hence does not target any one in particular.
The court is marking a decade after its operations started when Kenyans are eagerly waiting for the decision by the judges on when cases against four Kenyans who are suspects of post election violence will commence.
The PEV Suspects Uhuru Kenyatta, Joshua arap Sang and William Ruto being prayed for during one of their prayer rallies in Trans Nzoia County.
Last month during the status conference three suspects, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto and Radio presenter Joshua Sang expressed their views that the cases start after March 2013 to give them time to participate fully in election while the defence for Ambassador Francis Muthaura preferred cases to start in September arguing that Muthaura is old and also his health makes him feel he should be done with the cases as early as possible.
The anniversary also comes when a group of Kenyan Journalist is attending media training on factual reporting about ICC at the Hague Netherlands.
Mr. Nandemu Barasa is a Senior Editor at West Fm. He is also a senior political analyst with a keen interest in cultural research and analysis. He is also a senior presenter.
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