The Gambia Joins List of African Nations to Leave ICC
The Gambia says it will pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), following South Africa and Burundi’s decision to withdraw.
The small West African nation is the latest to accuse the ICC of unfairly targeting Africans with Gambian Information Minister Sheriff Bojang branding the organisation “an International Caucasian Court”.
A caucasian court
Minister Sheriff Bojang’s comments on the ICC sum up the general sentiment from African nations. Since the international court was first established in 2002, all but one of its cases have been against Africans – and Georgia only became the first non-African investigation earlier this year.
Too little, too late it seems for the critics who accuse it of unfairly targeting Africa.
Designed to act as a global court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the ICC is supposed to be a truly international court. However, various African officials accuse the organisation of targeting Africans while war crimes in other parts of the world go on ignored.
Meanwhile, the ICC’s jurisdiction is limited to nation who voluntarily signed up to the Rome Statute in 1998. The majority of Asia had nothing to do with it, while Russia and a number of other key states never ratified their signatures.
However, it was the withdrawal of the United States from the Rome Statue – over fears its own military would be subject to investigations – that tarnished the ICC’s very concept.
As Mr Bojang puts it, the ICC has acted more like “an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans.”
The ICC losing its presence in Africa
Whether or not the ICC unfairly targets Africans is a difficult case to prove. There are grave human rights violations and war crimes taking place in various African nation every day – that much is true. But there are also similar crimes taking place in other parts of the world and the ICC has, for some reason, failed to address.
Either way, the court is losing its presence in Africa and it could be too late to repair its broken relationship with the continent. Critics of the ICC point to its failure to indict former British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the Iraq, which only contributes to the idea of the ICC being a Western institution.
However, rights groups warn this doscourse against the ICC (whether accurate or not) is dangerous. The concern is certain leaders will capitalise on the court’s weakness and use this situation to commit huan rights violations without reprimand.
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