Despised by African Union leaders and warlords who see it as a West-controlled tool meant to hunt African ‘witches’, but hailed by ordinary Africans who describe it as some sort of ‘hell’ for African political devils, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is one of the most controversial institutions of the 21th century that does not cease to amaze.
The Netherlands-based tribunal has in the past few years become the talk of the town in almost every street corner, church corridors, offices and marketplaces in Africa – a continent where warlords kill innocent people, rape women and recruit children to fight, and where ruling parties have long been transformed into machines to arbitrarily detain, torture and execute their own people.
“My wish is to see the United Nations force that will be sent here hunt down every terrorist and warlord of Mujao, Ansar-Dine, Aqim, and MNLA, and send them to the ICC to die in there,” Amadou Coulibaly said in the city of Bamako, Mali.
“Those who kill their fellow brothers and sisters, and recruit African children into their armies must know that one day is one day, they will be caught and sent to the ICC,” Ibrahima Diallo said in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
Even women have joined the chorus.
University student Sophia Kouamé said in Abidjan: “We are really tired of these dictators and warlords giving us hard time in this continent. I wonder how the ICC jail looks like. Well, let’s say all these African dictators and warlords were to be arrested today and sent to the Hague. Do you think its jail will be big enough to swalow all of them because they are just too many.”
Her friend, Nadege Touré, intervened: “Why can’t they learn from the fate of Charles Taylor? he, I also heard that nobody comes out alive from the ICC, do you remember what happened to Milosevic, whatever his name was. He died in there. Surely that ICC should be a mysterious place.”
For every man and woman on the street, the ICC is the ‘right place’ to dump the continent’s political bad guys. And anything else than the ICC appears to be courting controversy. Hissein Habré is a perfect case study. Instead of being sent to the ICC, the former Chad dictator will be tried in Senegal.
Leon Kouadio, an Abidjan resident, said: “Habré should have been sent to the ICC, I just don’t trust this Senegalese so-called African special court with its black judges. He deserves to go to the ICC, where he will be heard by white judges and sentenced to die in there for what he did during his reign.
The fear of this resident is justified in the sense that many judges and magistrates in Africa have become puppets of ruling parties, who shower them with expensive gifts, money and properties to shut up, close their independent eyes, and always rule in favour of governments.
Now this is the one million dollar question: is every single African dictator and warlord an ICC-material?
Moon of the South is busy talking to experts and will reply to this question as soon as possible.
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Photo: The ICC in the Hague, in the Netherlands. Credit: Commons Wikimedia