– by Shenali D Waduge –
An ICC that cannot take US and UK to trial is not an international court. This is why the African Union has finally decided to review its relationship with the International Criminal Court in view of the rising number of cases against African leaders sponsored by Western nations. If its Africa today it will be Asia tomorrow and ONLY Third World nations and their leaders. As Chairman of CHOGM, an organization that represents 53 members, President Rajapakse must call for an emergency session and call for the membership to unilaterally oppose ICC rulings for an international court cannot be ‘international’ if the biggest perpetrators and the very nations that sponsor terror covertly and overtly are immune from trial and conviction.
President Rajapakse in his opening address reiterated that bilateral issues should not be taken up at CHOGM. None the less, obviously to honor promises made on home turf, a very haughtily behaving Viceroy mentality-clad British PM wearing colour of mourning insisted on going to Jaffna and met up with suddenly western-attired TNA leaders and later at a press conference showing white discrimination that Britain is so famous for fielded questions only from the foreign media and went on to threaten to take Sri Lanka before the UNHRC and thereafter to the ICC. We can ignore these threats but we are dealing with a country that can bend rules, make rules, break rules and create new rules as it sees fit. Much of these threats are to strike a deal but at the cost of putting other people’s heads on the line.
The Third World kept apart using various time-tested methodologies now need to realize that together they can put the countries of the First World in a position that they can no longer play the school bull dog. Its time the Third World leaders start putting their heads together and devise ways to take back the power without becoming neocolonial slaves. The First World must learn to respect the Third World and not simply subject their equality to reading out prepared messages and statements.
Africa’s concerns about the ICC is valid following the UN rejection of Kenya’s bid to halt its leader Mr. Kenyatta from appearing before the ICC trials. Mr. Kenyatta will become the FIRST serving head of state to go on trial at this pseudo international court – for what, election offences while none of the war crimes and crimes against humanity of the US,UK and NATO can get to ICC trials. The issue that Third World leaders attending CHOGM must now address is why should ONLY Third World leaders be brought before an organization supposedly called an international court that cannot take to trial or convict either US or Britain? Why should Third World leaders and their nations be bullied, humiliated and brought to trial by those bringing the cases whose criminal past and present are too barbaric to reveal though they pretend to be angels and expect us to treat them so?
What exactly is the International Criminal Court
Located in The Hague, it began operations in 2002 therefore it deals with crimes committed ONLY after 1 July 2002. It is meant to prosecute all those responsible for crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and can intervene IF national authorities CANNOT and WILL NOT prosecute. This then cannot omit US, UK and NATO countries because Iraq invasion and occupation without UN mandate and based on lies occurred in 2003.
The ICC has automatic jurisdiction upon states that have ratified the treaty, crimes committed on the territory of a state, by a citizen of such a state or when referred by the UN Security Council. 121 countries have ratified it.
ICC prosecutor will begin investigations if a case is referred by the UN Security Council or by a ratifying state. Prosecutor and Judges are elected by states taking part in the Court. Each state can nominate one candidate for election as a judge.
121 countries has ratified the Rome Treaty. 34 states have signed but not ratified. Jordan is the only Arab state to ratify.
US has not ratified the Rome Treaty/ICC arguing that its soldiers might be subject to politically motivated prosecutions. Bill Clinton signed the Treaty after safeguards but Congress has not ratified it. Bush threatened to pull its troops from the UN in Bosnia if US was not given immunity from prosecution by the ICC. US troops was thus given an exemption from prosecution renewed annually.
China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Turkey have not signed the Treaty. Egypt, Iran, Israel, Russia, Sri Lanka has neither signed nor ratified the Treaty.
Japan, Germany, France and Britain are the largest contributors to the ICC and naturally use this as a leverage just as Canada is now threatening to completely withdraw from the Commonwealth using its donation as threat.
- The ICC’s 1st verdict was in March 2012 against leader of the militia in DR Congo – Thomas Lubanga. He was convicted of war crimes relating to the use of children and was sentenced in July for 14 years.
- The next African to be brought before the ICC was Ivory Coast’s former President Laurent Gbagbo. The 4 charges against him were for murder, rape, sexual violence and ‘other inhuman acts’.
- In 2010, African leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, Vice President of former DR Congo was charged with 2 counts of crimes against humanity and 3 counts of war crimes in 2002-3 period.
- In 2009, more Africans – Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- Thus, Kenya’s 2013 presidential election winner Uhuru Kenyatta and 3 other high profile Kenyans were charged with crimes against humanity including murder, rape in 2007 elections.
- ICC is also targeting leaders of Uganda’s rebel movement the Lord’s Resistance Army. ICC charged its leader Joseph Kony for crimes against humanity and war crimes including abduction of children and forcing them to kill their own parents. Kony is at large refusing to sign any peace deal. Some of LTTE’s child soldiers were asked to do the same. Adele Balasingham may shed some light to David Cameron since she lives in the UK.
- ICC has an arrest warrant against another African – Sudanese President Omaar al-Bashir, the 1st against a serving head.
- ICC has also issued arrest warrants for two close allies of Libya’s former leader Gaddafi.
The ICC has no police force to arrest and put suspects on trial. Jean-Pierre Bemba was arrested in Brussels in 2008. ICC signatory countries are refusing to cooperate with the arrest of Sudan’s President Bashir with Chad and Kenya declining to detain him. India betraying Sri Lanka twice is a dangerous ally for Sri Lanka with the trust factor missing in the relationship no different to how Malawi refused to host the African Union Summit in 2012 for fear of antagonizing Western donors. So this is the game the West will play to coax nations to submission through carrot and stick method.
ICC cannot be a political organ that functions to a racist agenda. Its records of prosecutions reveal that only Africa’s leaders have thus far been targeted completely ignoring the illegalities that surround the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya and if all went well Syria. If the countries responsible for the war crimes and crimes against humanity escape or are immune from ICC trials it is nothing but a breach of international law and morally incorrect.
Does the US have a carte blanche to sent unmanned drones all over the world and murder innocent people in Pakistan and elsewhere?
Does ICC lens cover only Third World nations? The African leaders taken to task on election violations are hardly compared to the atrocities that cover since 2003 upon Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and even Syria by US, UK and NATO? Who is going to take these war mongers to trial? We quote the audacity of these Western nations who openly said that the ICC was not set up to bring British Prime Ministers or US Presidents to book (Robin Cook – former British Foreign Secretary).
What kind of an international court leaves out nations from trial – especially when these nations hold the key to all the conflicts taking place the world over.
A world court cannot have selective application of justice if this ‘international court’ was created to promote security, peace, justice and reconciliation. What is a hypocrisy of justice is that US has even declared that it has a right to invade the Hague to free American citizens if indicted and facing prosecution, a sentiment that Australia also shares but only Third World has to offer their leaders on a platter to be tried in the Hague.
It is totally unfair to always expect Russia and China to come to the rescue. The nations of the World in particular the Third World need to realize that each of them are in a very compromising position. Some of these very countries are ever willing to endorse and do what the West bids them to do because the West finds subtle ways to bend these nations to their bidding, however these are unhealthy scenarios long term for none of the Third World nations are considered on par with these First World Western nations – who continue to see them as nations to be plundered though statements camouflage this reality.
It is better that the Third World realize this truth now than living in a cuckoo land. India may not have signed the Treaty but India’s present links to the West should certainly worry Sri Lanka’s President for India has been betraying Sri Lanka on not just one occasion. Sri Lanka should not think that its leaders are safe from being handed over!
When US, UK and NATO crimes cover false invasions, unlimited occupation of foreign lands, take over of foreign assets, degradation of human beings, organized crime, illegal torture methods, rape, racial profiling, religious persecution, inhuman acts on prisoners, illegal prisons and prisoners kept without trials, illegal renditions, inhuman prisoner interrogations – what is the ICC going to do about these, what has the UNHRC done about these, what has Navi Pillai done throughout 2 terms in office, what has UN membership done to demand justice for nations that have been victims of US, UK, NATO aggression?
ICC cannot charge America because America has veto powers in the UN Security Council.
ICC cannot charge America because it has the ‘American Service-members’ Protection Act (Hague Invasion Act) – this law allows US to use ‘all means necessary and appropriate’ to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel detained or imprisoned by or on the request of the ICC.
ICC cannot charge the US because it has bilateral immunity agreements – Article 98 Agreement with ICC-compliant countries which confirm that these countries will not surrender US citizens to the ICC.
Britain has been guilty of crimes against humanity since colonial times.
Britains crimes cover Ireland, Iraq, Kenya and other colonies. But again, Britain holds veto powers at the UN Security Council. It is a nation that boasts that the ICC was created not to take British Prime Ministers or American Presidents to court.
Yet the underlying take home from this is that there cannot be a world court that will not address America’s and Britains accountability for international crimes.
If leaders of the world (all countries on planet Earth) has committed crimes they have to ALL stand trial and face the same justice system. There cannot be a world justice system that protects some nations, the very nations that manufacture and sell arms and creates conflicts because it is these transnational networks that have the power to control these Western Governments to do their bidding.
What President Rajapakse must now do as the Chair of CHOGM is to bring up the witch-hunt of Third World nations to the podium of CHOGM and discuss a CHOGM declaration that ICC cannot bring members of the Third World to the ICC unless there is equal justice and all nations are put on trial for crimes. Simply because some countries of veto power and they have deals and agreements in place they cannot escape justice especially when they are the one’s bringing others to justice.
We cannot accept a scenario where the criminal fugitive takes others to trial when the criminal’s records of crimes are too heinous to imagine.