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Icc shows world is full of hypocrisy

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ICC shows world is full of hypocrisy

E Qasim

Jovial Rantao’s call that the “ICC (International Criminal Court) must act on all leaders’ atrocities” (The Star, March 13), naming former US president George Bush and the Israeli prime minister as examples of suspects committing atrocities in Iraq and Gaza, is courageous and timely.

Justice is seen to be done only when it is served against the most powerful, not the weak and vulnerable.

A look at the ICC system shows that it is structurally unable to fulfil this duty because it is subordinate to the UN Security Council, which has the power to refer to the ICC cases it deems fit, and to intervene to suspend court proceedings.

Given that the Security Council is controlled by its five permanent members, three of whom do not recognise the ICC, the veto power will be readily used by these members to shield themselves and their close allies.

Heads of state can be brought before the ICC through a referral from the Security Council or through the governments of member states of the Rome Statute that created the ICC. It’s unlikely that the Security Council would refer any of the permanent members of their allies to the ICC.

The Security Council’s resolution in March 2005 to refer the situation in Darfur to the ICC was an example of the council’s double standards.

The resolution has exempted US nationals from prosecution by the ICC for any war crime or crime against humanity in Somalia, Darfur, Iraq or Gaza.

All the ICC’s current cases are from Africa. And, according to a recent article in The Star, possible targets include leaders from Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Chad, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Central African Republic.

So, the perception that the ICC is meant basically to deal with Africans is well founded.

There is evidence that Western powers do not interpret international justice or universal criminal jurisdiction to mean that all nations are equal before international law.

Consider France’s position on the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

France has been haunted by accusations of partial criminal responsibility for the genocide because it was the main supporter of the Rwandan government responsible for the massacre, and because of the presence of a big French military unit in Rwanda at the time.

According to many observers, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has produced enough credible evidence to try French government officials, as many witnesses had told the tribunal about French soldiers training Hutu militias.

Instead of fully co-operating with the ICTR, France undermined its work by providing shelter for suspected genocide perpetrators. Because of this, it was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in June 2004. The International Federation for Human Rights said cases related to the genocide had been met with “coolness by French judicial authorities”.

Last year, the independent Rwandan commission tasked with investigating the genocide released a report accusing France of being aware of preparations for the genocide and helping to train perpetrators. It also accused France of involvement in the killings.

It named 13 French politicians – including the late former president Jacques Mitterrand, ex-prime ministers Alain Juppe and Dominique de Villepin, and 20 French military senior officials – to be prosecuted for criminal responsibility.

France was expected to take these findings seriously and offer its co-operation to prosecute the French suspects. Instead, a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the report “contains unacceptable accusations against French political and military officials”.

This world is full of hypocrisy!