The two top officials of the ICC, Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and his deputy who will soon take over from him, Fatou Bensouda, have denied that the ICC is targeting Africa. “I don’t think any of us can deny that the atrocities that are happening in Africa are crimes and therefore within the jurisdiction of the ICC,” says Bensouda.
ICC chief prosecutor (stepping down in June)
“I deeply hope that the horrors that humanity has suffered during the 20th century will serve as a painful lesson, and that the creation of the International Criminal Court will help us to prevent those atrocities from being repeated in the future.”
[Responding to the question of bias and targeting weaker nations, Ocampo says]: “I can just investigate crimes committed in the states parties’ territory. If you mention to me one country in my states parties that I’m not investigating, then you can tell me something. The rest of the world is a [UN] Security Council decision and then you can say there are still double standards. I would not say there are no more double standards in the world. I would say, do you believe it’s not true, what we are saying on Libyan crimes? Is it not true what we say about the crimes committed by Thomas Lubanga, Joseph Kony, Jean-Pierre Bemba or President Bashir?
“If you think the crimes are real, you should support the Court; if not, you support the criminals. We have to stop impunity to help prevent future crimes. That is my mission. The issue is, as soon as I have evidence, I move.”
(Incoming ICC chief prosecutor)
“I am proud to be inheriting a well-respected and sound functioning office, with high-calibre and dedicated organised staff, and organised policies and practise. This solid basis will be the starting point of my work, and any adjustment will be well considered.
“I will continue to uphold the efforts at the highest standard of this call. My origin as [an] African has nothing to do with my mandate as prosecutor of the ICC. Of course, I have my strong views about the saying that the ICC is targeting Africa or African leaders. I don’t agree with that. I think the ICC is working for Africa and for African victims. And I don’tthink any of us can deny that the atrocities that are happening in Africa are crimes and therefore within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“You have to recall that the ICC is a voluntary organisation. Countries have not been forcedto ratify the Rome Statute. They have done that with their eyes open. It is a legal obligation that rises as a result of that action you take by signing and ratifying the Rome Statute. The next step is that this commitment implies that if you cannot [try the case locally], then the ICC comes in. This is the implication which the states have signed and ratified, and this gives the ICC the jurisdiction to intervene. The rights of every individual have to be respected.
“However, some people misunderstand the jurisdiction of the ICC and human rights. We are not a human rights court. We are a court that has been set up to deal with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. “[Therefore] every time people say the ICC is targeting Africa, it saddens me, especially as an African woman, and knowing that most of these conflicts are happening on the continent of Africa. All the victims in our cases are Africans. They are not from another continent.
“Why don’t we look at the positive side? Why don’t we look at the fact that African leaders are taking the lead in international criminal justice?