ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, has shrugged off allegations that the Hague-based court is targeting African leaders.
Addressing West African journalists at the Hague recently, she remarked: “It is not that ICC or my office or myself are going to target African leaders; it is too simplistic to say that, and it is even disheartening.”
She said no one is specifically targeted because the court was set up to investigate and prosecute crimes where it has jurisdiction.
“All the African states that are part of the ICC are also doing their obligation or duty or responsibility by referring cases to the ICC. If these crimes are committed in your territory and you are part of the ICC, you have to do the first obligation and if you cannot do it and you are part of the ICC, you can refer the situation to us to look at it. All the other situations had been under the request of the African states themselves. So where is the justification to the allegation that ICC is targeting Africa? This was what I talked about in my speech that there are some people who deliberately were spreading this for their own interest and of course they have their supporters; they have people supporting them spread this message.
“It can be very frustrating. We are not saying we should not be criticized or there can’t be a public debate about our work; there should be. It should be based on well-informed decision. It should be devoid of political posturing and we should look at the facts as they are. If you really look at the work ICC is doing, my office is looking closely at how those cases got to the ICC. How did they start and you will get to see that it is not the ICC bring those cases? These cases were actually referred to us by the African states themselves. All the cases that we are handling, I have said this several times and I have explained how it started with Uganda, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Mali and all these situations even recently Gabon referred a situation to us and I have looked at it and we told them that it really does not meet our criteria to open investigations.”