Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Friday he will mobilise African leaders to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing it of being used as a “tool to target” the continent.
Museveni was cheered as he spoke at Kenya’s independence day celebrations, after the collapse earlier this month of the ICC’s ‘crimes against humanity’ case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“I will bring a motion to the next sitting of the African Union to have all African states withdraw from the court, then they can be left alone with their own court,” Museveni said, criticising Western nations. “They have used it as a tool to target Africa.”
Kenyatta, 53, has said he was “vindicated” after the Hague-based prosecutor earlier this month dropped all charges accusing the him of allegedly masterminding Kenya’s deadly post-election violence in 2007-08.
The trial of his deputy Vice-President William Ruto on similar but separate charges continues.
Experts say the collapse of the case against Kenyatta has been the ICC’s biggest set back yet.
The AU has previously slammed the ICC for unfairly targeting Africans, calling the international court “racist”, and last year requested for the Kenyan cases be deferred, a bid rejected by the United Nations.
“The ICC has been undermining African states. We told them to wait to try Kenyatta and Ruto after they finish serving their terms, they refused,” Museveni added, speaking alongside Kenyatta. “Now, see, charges against Kenyatta have been withdrawn.”
AU heads of state next meet at a January 30-31 at the bloc’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties who have ratified the ICC’s founding treaty, and an African withdrawal from the court would seriously damage the institution.
But previous AU debates on the issue in October 2013 saw the bloc divided, with countries like Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Rwanda taking a tough line, but other nations seemingly reluctant to get embroiled in a diplomatic confrontation.
Any pullout would be the decision of an individual nations that have signed the ICC’s founding Rome Statute.
The AU is also driving efforts to set up an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, although that is not expected to be operational for several years.
The ICC is a court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The ICC is a court of last resort. It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine, for example if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility. In addition, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes.
Source Credits: AFP & ICC