AFRICANGLOBE – Calls for Africa to ditch the International Criminal Court continue to grow louder in the context of its unbridled bias towards the continent’s leadership. Since its inception, the ICC has been riddled with accusations of selective application of prosecution with more evidence now be unearthed of how the supposedly international court of appeal has become the West’s instrument of coercion against “errant” African leaders.
While on paper the ICC purports to investigate and, where warranted, try individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community and to end impunity, in reality the court seems to have been set up to deal with African states viewed to in conflict with the West’s and US’s hegemonic hold on developing nations.
Isn’t it clear that the ICC has, on several occasions, been exposed for its role in trying to destabilise Africa so that the West can plunder the continent’s resources?
African countries, scholars and international relations experts unanimously contend that the ICC has become an instrument to further the West’s interests in dominating the developing world since the end of the Cold War.
The contention by most African scholars is that some cases pursued by the international court reek of attempts to cow Africa and further entrench their neo-colonial interests.
While Africans have dominated the number of those indicted by the ICC, the case of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir continues to expose the restive push by the West in persecuting African leaders.
The London Evening Post last month published an expose on the ICC president Judge Silvia Alejandra Fernández de Gurmendi amid calls for her to resign after it emerged that she may have received millions of US dollars in financial rewards to ensure the indictment of President al Bashir.
It is alleged that between 2004 and 2015, the Argentinian-born ICC president allegedly received into her private bank accounts unexplained funds mounting to over US$17 million allegedly used to bribe witnesses that enabled the ICC to indict the Sudanese leader.
The funds were deposited at Banco Popular in the Virgin Islands, the First Caribbean Bank in the Bahamas and the Congregation B’nai Israel.
The newspaper further alleges that the funds were channelled through Judge de Gurmendi’s accounts by Barting Holding Ltd, Atlantic Corporation, Genesis International Holdings and Napex International, all of which are offshore financial companies.
Allegations are that wire transfers ranging from US$150 000-US$250 000 were made to the judge’s bank accounts.
All these funds, according to The London Evening Post, were made available to Judge de Gurmendi during the time that President al Bashir was under investigation and the ICC was looking for evidence to indict him.
The article further alleged that funds channelled through Judge de Gurmendi’s accounts were distributed by her to groups in Darfur including the Sudan Liberation Movement, formerly the Darfur Liberation Front founded by Abdul Wahid al Nur and others in 2002.
De Gurmendi, appointed ICC president in March last year, allegedly used the funds to “recruit, coach and fake evidence and witnesses to testify against President Bashir”.
Pan African Forum Chief Dr David Nyekorach Matsanga, it is reported, is now leading calls on Judge de Gurmendi to resign from her position arguing that it was improper for an ICC judge to receive “unexplained colossal sums of money which outmatch her annual salary”.
Dr Matsanga, according to the reports, argues that her resignation would allow proper investigations on how she continued to receive large sums of money into her private accounts from 2004, the year Sudan President Bashir was indicted by the court on charges of crimes against humanity, to 2015.
He further argues that, according to the reports, President al Bashir’s indictment was carried out through the corrupting of senior ICC officials.
In The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir ICC-02/05-01/09, in which first warrant for arrest for President al Bashir was issued on March 4, 2009 and the second on July 12, 2010, the ICC claims that until Omar al Bashir is arrested and transferred to the seat of the Court in The Hague, the case will remain in the Pre-Trial stage.
According to the ICC, President al Bashir allegedly committed crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of genocide in Sudan and South Sudan.
It alleges that President Bashir carried out numerous unlawful attacks, followed by systematic acts of pillage, on towns and villages, mainly inhabited by civilians belonging to the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups.
It further alleges that he commandeered his troops and subjected thousands of civilians, to acts of murder, extermination, rape, forcible transfer, torture and contaminated the wells and water pumps of the towns and villages primarily inhabited by members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups that they attacked.
The ICC in charging President al Bashir allegedly found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, as the de jure and de facto president of Sudan and commander-in-chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces at all times relevant played an essential role in coordinating the design and implementation of the common plan.
It alternatively alleges that President al Bashir played a role that went beyond coordinating the implementation of the counter-insurgency campaign; was in full control of all branches of the “apparatus” of the State of Sudan, including the Sudanese Armed Forces and their allied Janjaweed militia, the Sudanese Police Forces, the NISS and the HAC; and used such control to secure the implementation of the said GoS counter-insurgency campaign.
The court claims that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Al Bashir acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.
However, Africa is not amused and the allegations against Judge de Gurmendi further galvanises its case that efforts are being pushed to persecute African leaders, especially those who have resisted working to the whims of the West.
An African Union advisory board also accused the ICC of narrowly focusing its investigations on African government leaders since its inception in 2002.
It pointed to the fact that nine of the ICC’s 10 active investigations are based on Africa.
AU members had in April this year ordered the Economic Social and Cultural Council to evaluate their ties to the ICC amid growing concerns that the court was inherently biased against Africa.
The ECOSOCC condemned the ICC accusing it of favouring the UN and EU nations that strongly support it. The debate on the ICC bias towards Africa rages but scholars believe the allegations are true. However, the divisions rocking the AU over ICC has been quite visible.
International lawyer Chief Charles Achaleke Taku notes that many African leaders are mere puppets of neo-colonial interest that has helped them to externalise power in exchange for defending the neo-colonial economic and hegemonic agenda.
The West continues to use persuasion and coercion as a weapon against African countries that ignore their calls to arrest president al Bashir.
Uganda and Djibouti are in “trouble” for failing to arrest president al Bashir while he was on their territory.
The ICC referred the two African countries to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties, which represents the nations that have ratified the court.
But the argument remains that Sudan does not recognise the ICC’s authority.
It actually considers itself outside of its jurisdiction.
President al Bashir himself denies the charges.
So why is Africa still haggling over an issue that has become so open to the world that the West is manipulating the international justice system to punish African leaders who go against its neo-colonial agenda?
Should Africa continue to be divided over promises of balance of payment?
Has the dependence syndrome become so entrenched that some African governments would fight tooth and nail to please their Western sponsors?
It is clear that the West, in particular the US, continues to use its financial might to push its goal of achieving dominance over Africa.
Why would the US continue pumping financial resources into an organisation it does not recognise?
To date, 122 countries have signed and ratified the ICC’s Rome Statute.
However, the United States, China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Israel, and Turkey have not ratified it and thus are not under the jurisdiction of the court.
But these same countries have been sponsoring the ICC so that it trains its focus on Africa.
Day by day, the ICC and its team continues to be exposed while Africa remains divided on whether it keeps referring its sons and daughters to the beleaguered court.
Dr Matsanga calls for Judge de Gurmendi to resign, but is it not prudent for Africa to leave the ICC en masse?
The evidence is there, the ICC is an instrument for persecuting the African dissenting voices against American hegemony.
By: Sydney Kawadza