Wednesday, May 29, 2013
The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor hit back at critics on Tuesday, a day after the African Union accused the tribunal of racism.
Fatou Bensouda said the critics were defending “perpetrators” of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The prosecutor did not mention any particular group. But her comments
came only a day after an African Union summit said the ICC was targeting
the continent on the basis of race.
“We all know who the voices are,” Bensouda told a meeting at United
Nations headquarters when asked by an African diplomat about “voices”
questioning ICC tactics.
“The voices are those who are trying to protect the perpetrators of
these crimes. They are not the voices who are supporting the victims of
these crimes,” said Bensouda, who is from Gambia.
The ICC is currently facing mounting diplomatic pressure over charges
of crimes against humanity filed against Kenyan President Uhuru
Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto linked to political unrest in
2008 when neither were in office.
An African Union summit on Monday called for the ICC charges to be
halted. Kenya has asked the UN Security Council to “terminate” the case.
“We should not take what ICC is doing to turn it on its head,”
Bensouda said at the UN meeting on enforced disappearances organized by
France and Argentina.
“The true victims of the crimes are the victims of war crimes, crimes
against humanity and genocide, not those who perpetrate them. And now
we see that that those voices, what they are all trying to do is protect
those who perpetrate the crimes.”
“I think this is an insult to the victims,” she added.
“I think this should not be happening and anybody who is concerned
about addressing crimes of this nature – against the thousands and
thousands and thousands of victims, African victims – should be
concerned about what is happening right now,” she told the UN meeting.
Bensouda vowed that the ICC would “continue to be independent, to
continue to be impartial, to apply the law strictly without any
political or other considerations.”
African governments often express bitterness that all ICC investigations target the continent.
But nearly all of the eight investigations – from Uganda to
Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali – were referred by the African
countries themselves. Forty-three African countries have signed the
ICC’s founding Rome Statute and 34 have ratified it. This makes Africa
the most heavily represented region in the court membership.
Tiina Intelmann, president of the 122-country assembly of ICC member
states, acknowledged that the perceived “Africa-only” focus of
investigations has created difficulties for the court in dealings with
“Let us not forget, however, that the current focus on the African
situations also means a focus on African victims,” Intelmann said in a
A trust fund set up by the ICC statute has helped about 80,000 victims of “atrocity crimes.”
“It is fair to say that without the activities of that fund, all
those African victims would have received little or no assistance at
all,” Intelmann added.