Much like the Ferguson police department, the ICC seems to prefer to indict only black men

The list of indicted people is here.

Much is being made of South Africa’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Bashir, as he fled back home today.

By the letter of the law the nation of Mandela should have arrested Bashir. I would have liked to see this happen, but there are several reasons I will not chide the South African government for its failure.

The main one is that the International Criminal Court will have legitimacy only if it is seen as effective, impartial, and universal. Unfortunately it has failed on all three.

On effectiveness, most of the ICC’s investigations, indictments, and court cases have been shambolic.

On impartiality, the fact that only Africans are indicted is obviously political. Nations with power and patrons do not get indicted, I imagine because one of the big nations vetoes it officially or unofficially. This completely de-legitimizes the whole court. This one isn’t really the ICC’s fault, though the principled thing to do might be to resign over interference rather than just keep trying to arrest more black people.

Finally, universality. From none other than a Bashir press conference today:

So long as the world’s largest countries do not sign on, the moral weight of ICC indictments will not weigh heavily on countries like South Africa. Especially when they’re asked to do very risky, domestically unpopular things like arrest a nearby head of state at a diplomatic event.

To paraphrase an old saying, when we point our finger at South Africa this week we should remember there are three fingers pointing back at us.

12 thoughts on “Much like the Ferguson police department, the ICC seems to prefer to indict only black men

  1. Why is it almost only black men in the dock in The Hague?

    Critics see it as evidence that the court is racist .

    Is it true and does it in this case matter?

    Today started the trial against Kenya’s vice president who is charged with crimes against humanity . According to reporters at the scene , William Ruto relaxed and confident when he declared “not guilty ” on all counts . He appeared voluntarily at the ICC in The Hague, the ICC.
    This despite the fact that he was as recently as last spring, took power in Kenya along with his co-defendants , president Uhuru Kenyatta . He has also promised to come to The Hague when his trial begins in December.

    The announcement from the defendants is that they can not both be away from Kenya while . It puts a stop to the Constitution of Kenya .

    Meanwhile, Kenya’s parliament voted for the country to pull out of its membership of the ICC. One manifestation of the growing criticism of the ICC mainly from African countries.

    The charges against Ruto and Kenyatta in the violence that followed the elections in 2007. The two are accused of being behind the violence against supporters of his political opponents .

    So far everything is crystal clear.

    It is exactly this type of abuse that the ICC should be doing.

    But while the trial to occur there will be a report from the Swedish journalist Bengt Nilsson, who for many years reporting from and about Africa. He points out the fact that the ICC after 11 years so far only indicted black leaders from Africa. Which could be interpreted to mean that the court is racist and discriminatory .

    But maybe it’s simply that there has been ongoing and a number of African conflicts where civilians hit particularly hard and ICC therefore has reason to intervene.

    To accuse the West of racism and neo-colonialism tends to be a knee-jerk reaction in undemocratic African leaders as soon as their leadership is questioned by the West.

    But there is one big problem with the ICC.

    Vssa countries, including giants such as the U.S., Russia , China and India have not joined the court . Therefore they do not cooperate with the court or disclose citizens indicted by the ICC .

    Thus , it would be practically a dead letter , for example, prosecute former U.S. president George W. Bush because he started the war against Iraq on false premises and indirectly guilty of over 100,000 people dead . America would never give Bush.

    This did not prevent the ICC from prosecuting Sudan ‘s President Omar al-Bashir despite even Sudan among the countries that do not recognize the ICC .

    Just like that stand in the eyes of many Africans. When their leaders commit serious crimes and war crimes to be prosecuted by the ICC . While Western leaders perceived to do little as they want by virtue of its military strength and in the name of democracy .

    Whatever the truth of this, it is a dangerous development. If the ICC is no longer perceived as a legitimate and fair institution in much of the world , you risk the whole system will collapse .

    Which would be a shame .

    The special tribunals previously held in a series of conflicts as the former Yugoslavia , Rwanda, Sierra Leone has been very successful . Those most responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity shaking now gratings in different parts of the world.

    The signal to dictators and tyrants have been that they can no longer expect to walk free . A signal that really worked .

    ABOUT ICC fails to continue on that path or if their credibility is undermined , it is deeply unfortunate. Then the world will lose an important tool for policy makers to think twice before they commit serious crimes.

  2. I’m a fan. But there are some pretty serious problems with this post…some analytic, and some faulty premises.

    “most of the ICC’s investigations, indictments, and court cases have been shambolic.” –I don’t know what this means, but I can tell you that all of the investigations & indictments are based on a *legal* assessment of jurisdiction and evidence. It is only where states are unable or unwilling to prosecute that there is jurisdiction. See: “ICC complementarity”

    “the fact that only Africans are indicted is obviously political.”– i’ll put aside the black box of ‘africans’ momentarily to suggest there might be other dynamics at play–including the jurisdiction of the court, self-referrals by (African) states who have deemed themselves unable to prosecute, and the incidence of armed conflict as defined by the geneva conventions–a necessary but not sufficient condition for war crimes determinations. And given the frequency with which this “racist” or “hegemonic” court trope has been bandied about, one might argue that a good “political” indictment would rationally be un-“african”. I’ll also point out that some of the active OTP investigations would not likely lead to the indictment of “black men”, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Honduras, Iraq, Ukraine, and Palestine. Finally, if you examine the jurisdiction of the court, you’ll see that even individuals w/nationalities that are not state parties (eg, “USA, China, India”) can be indicted if the crimes took place in the territory of a state party, or a state that has invited the jurisdiction of the court.

    “Nations with power and patrons do not get indicted” –Nations don’t get indicted at all. It is a criminal court. Individual culpability for criminal acts is what is prosecuted. The states–including those where the individual has hands on the reins of authority–are by definition allied toward the mandate of the court. Unless that state’s domestic laws condone murder, slavery, extermination, rape, torture, etc.

    “I imagine because one of the big nations vetoes it officially or unofficially” –There is *no* conceivable manner in which “big nations” can unofficially veto an investigation by the OTP. “Official”, vetoes can only come from the UNSC, where the council has the power to refer a situation to the court, even if the antagonists arent state parties to Rome (indeed, the Sudan referral). But even the Security Council can’t “veto” an investigation, only members of the p5 can veto a referral, such as Russia’s steadfast refusal to refer the situation in Syria to the court for investigation.

    “So long as the world’s largest countries do not sign on, the moral weight of ICC indictments will not weigh heavily on countries like South Africa.” That is rhetorical; as evidenced by the source. If you believe that international law exists, then the obligation of the SA authorities was clear. And further to that point: the failure to do so was a likely violation of SA law, as evidenced by the fact that it was a SA court that ordered the international fugitive not be allowed to flee jurisdiction.

    finally, I’ll just paste this:

    “Paired with these short-sighted failures is a diffuse attack on the ICC itself as an institution of coercion: the morally dubious proposition that — since some crimes committed by powerful individuals have gone unanswered — international justice efforts represented by the ICC are naked expressions of hegemony and control. Agents of impunity could not devise a better ruse undermining accountability than to propagate a narrative of the ICC and other mechanisms as themselves manifestations of injustice.”

  3. you have to know that those big countries have veto power and so it would be real hard for them to come up with decisions that might put them at a disadvantage. if ICC truly wanted justice then it should be left alone to make its own decisions.

  4. International community dealt with Gaddafi and he’s now eating dust in the desert. No one is above the International law. I applaud Britain and USA for discarding Col Gaddafi into the dust bin of history. It’s now our time to laugh!

  5. chorus of criticism against the ICC is nothing new; it has been rising for years, led by none other than the African Union, or AU, which is based in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa. At the organization’s 50-year anniversary summit in May, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn had some harsh words for the international court.