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Has the ICC Failed Africans?

icc 3 By Ibtihal Khidir

“The Chamber noted factors including the Prosecution’s admission that the evidentiary basis remains insufficient to support a conviction and the Prosecution’s concession that it remains speculative whether the information sought in the cooperation request would, even if obtained, be sufficient to support the charges…”

So reads a statement issued by the International Criminal Court Trial Chamber shortly after the Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda backed away from its pursuit of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The term “Lawfare,” as defined by the Lawfare Project, “denotes the use of the law as a weapon of war, or more specifically, the abuse of the law and legal systems for strategic political or military ends.”

Could there be a better description of the International Criminal Court’s ambiguous and selective prosecutions, particularly in Africa?

Does anyone seriously doubt there are open-and-shut cases that could be more effectively brought against nations outside Africa if those nations lacked powerful friends and benefactors? Is Kenya seriously on par with, oh, North Korea?

“I supported the court at first because I like discipline,” Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said. “I don’t want people to err without accountability…but they have turned it into a vessel for oppressing Africa again so I’m done with that court. I won’t work with them again.”

The hands of all African leaders are not free of blood, of course, yet many Africans are beginning to see the ICC less as a fair and lawful entity than a club of cynics arbitrarily imposing its operational and political agenda.

By failing to establish itself as an institution of credibility, and using its own yardstick and political motives to promote a so-called justice, the ICC fails Africans as well.