Africans benefit from the ICC processes – Bensuda


The Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensuda has said that Africans are benefitting from the court’s operations in prosecuting suspected perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Addressing journalists yesterday at the Phakalane Golf Estates, Bensuda said that it is not true that the court is targeting African leaders, but helping the voiceless victims of the perpetrators.

The African Union has accused the ICC of targeting Africans and some members have threatened to pull out of the Rome Statute.

“When we say target, who do we have in mind – those who are alleged to have perpetrated the crimes, are they the ones we are targeting? What about the victims? Who is there for them, who is giving them a voice?” Bensuda asked.

She said that more than a 100,000 African victims are benefitting from the ICC processes in different cases, and that the accusers should always think about the victims.

“I think we should be thinking about justice for the victims and not looking for ways in which we shield alleged perpetrators from justice,” Bensuda said.

She added that many Africans have requested the ICC to intervene in conflicts that local courts failed to resolve.

In some instances, the ICC would intervene at the request of the United Nations Security Council such as Libya and Darfur (Sudan).

“The only case in which the prosecutor of the ICC has used special  powers, was when the crimes occurred on the territory of a state party like Kenya  and they are not doing anything to address the crimes.

If they took it upon themselves to investigate and prosecute then ICC will not. The ICC is the court of last resort,” she said.

Recently Sudan president Omar Al-Bashir attended an AU Summit in South Africa and left the country under a cloud of controversy after the ICC demanded his arrest.

Bensuda stated that the South African government should have known the consequences of inviting Al-Bashir to the country because it knew the obligations of being state member of the ICC, one of them being to arrest any person who has a warrant of arrest issued against them.

“South Africa is a party to the Rome Statute and very much aware of its treaty obligations. They know what they are supposed to do. President Bashir was indicted a long time ago, before any attempt to invite or not to invite.

“We are always trying to work within the legal framework, thus when someone is wanted by the ICC, member states have to arrest them”. The ICC Chief Prosecutor said no member states are forced to be state parties to the ICC, but they should comply with their obligations.

“ICC is created by a voluntary treaty, not created by the UN or any other body. States themselves negotiated and took a sovereign act of joining the treaty. So they should comply with the obligations that come with signing the treaty,” she said.

She said it would be a good thing for all countries in the world to join the ICC and that it would be a good thing to have universality, as that would dispel the accusations of double standards against the ICC. Bensuda declined to comment on recent reports that South Africa was considering pulling out of the ICC, but said that it was in the best interest of the country. Bensuda was at the two-day, high-level seminar whose main objective is to foster cooperation among the states. The countries that are represented at the seminar are Madagascar, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Comoros, Malawi, and Lesotho.

The Attorney General, Dr Athalia Molokomme, stated that Botswana will remain committed to the ICC as it believes that it is the only establishment that can help fight impunity on the African continent and the world.

“Much as there are imperfections on the Rome Statute, it is a special court and Botswana recognises this is an extremely important step the international community took towards addressing impunity internationally.”

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