Africa to decide on involvement in ICC

African countries will meet this month to assess their continued involvement in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the special extraordinary summit of African states is scheduled for October 12 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"The summit will consider our participation as African countries in the ICC. Do I give you the outcome of the summit before it sits? No, I can't," she said.

"South Africa is going to that meeting to participate, fully aware of the developments that are taking place. We were there when the ICC was formed. We have all the rights as member states to sit back and say is this exactly what we thought we were forming?"

She said Africa's position would be announced to the world soon afterwards. "Allow us to go, meet, discuss, exchange ideas and come out with the extraordinary summit outcomes. We will not hide them. We will share with you the details."

Some African leaders have accused the ICC of unfairly targeting Africans. The ICC is currently trying Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto for allegedly instigating violence during the country's 2007 general election, in which more than 1 000 people died.

Justice
On Monday, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said if African victims could get justice in their own countries, there would be no need for the ICC to step in. 

Speaking in Cape Town at the third annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture, Annan came to the defence of the ICC. "On a continent that has experienced deadly conflict, gross violations of human rights, even genocide, I am surprised to hear critics ask whether the pursuit of justice might obstruct the search for peace," Annan said at the University of the Western Cape.

He said justice and peace were interlinked, and that the one could not be achieved without the other. "We must be ambitious enough to pursue both, and wise enough to recognise, respect and protect the independence of justice," he said.

"And we must always have the courage to ask ourselves 'who speaks for the victims?'" Annan bemoaned the fact that "the victims of the worst crimes" in Africa had been failed because of inaction against the perpetrators.

In most cases, it was Africans who sought justice when courts in their own countries had failed them.

"In four of the cases on Africa before the court, African leaders themselves made the referral to the ICC. In two others – Darfur and more recently Libya – it was the United Nations Security Council, and not the court, which initiated proceedings," he said.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Annan reiterated that the ICC had been set up as a court of last resort. – Sapa

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