By Tabora Bojang
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, has come to the defence of the court that it only targets, prosecutes and convicts Africans at the expense of the rest of the world in ensuring justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The chief prosecutor made this remark during a recent BBC hard-talk program.
The ICC was set up in 2002 as a court of last resort to try individuals accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide but the court has been accused of only targeting African leaders.
“Yes we have had this criticism before but this criticism unfortunately is misplaced and it is not backed by relevant facts. I am saying this because if you look at situations that we are investigating now in Africa, majority of those situations have been at the request of the African states themselves who have requested the ICC to intervene because they are state parties,”
Asked on AU labelling the ICC as an instrument of race hunting with African leaders planning a mass exit from the Rome Statute.
”I just see it as very unfortunate really. This is a court that has enjoyed African support from the very beginning. Africa has played a very significant role in the establishment of the ICC those who negotiated the treaty will tell you this. Even in 2010 when we were looking at the ICC statute itself again and looking at whether there is a need to replace or renew anything it was held in Uganda.
“Secondly the current president of the ICC Assembly of state parties Sidiki Kaba is a minister of justice in Senegal and Senegal was the first state that has ratified the Rome Statute and today the largest bloc of states in any region is Africa,” Bensouda stated.
She said the case of Hissène Habré former Chad leader is a commendable one from Senegal and the AU.
“I think it should be known that we do not have the jurisdiction over the Hissène Habré case because it occurred before ICC comes into existence but even then, we have applauded the efforts that have been made at the level of Senegal and the AU,” she added.
According to her, there are number of world communities that are now enjoying the protection of the court and ICC enjoys membership of over 120 states who have signed the Rome Statute in 1998.
She said one of the biggest challenges ICC is confronted with is people “understand the court, knowing what the court can do and what the court cannot do, what is the jurisdiction of the court where it can intervene and where it cannot intervene. Unfortunately we do have our core business to conduct which is investigate and prosecute but also we have made efforts whether in seminars, bilateral and other means to explain what the court is about but there are critics of the court, there is push back against the court and this has a whole machinery that they use to discredit the court.”