July 6, 2015, 8:18am
Namibia contemplates pulling the plug on ICC
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has hinted that Namibia is in support of the current African debate to ditch the International Criminal Court if it continues with a bias against Africans.
She believes that the country would rather pay homage to the African Criminal Court of Justice which is to be established as the ICC is viewed as treating Africans as second class citizens to other regions in the world.
“What we are saying is that the ICC needs to be serious with human rights, and deal with arrests fairly. Namibia is a country which is serious about human rights, and the ICC being a champion of human rights, it is not fair to have death sentences as a way of sentencing because they are too harsh practices,” Nandi-Ndaitwah stressed.
Her revelations corroborates recent utterances by President Hage Geingob who at the recent press conference recently said, “If initially Africans thought they needed the ICC and realise they do not need it anymore, they should be allowed to pull out. African leaders met and are consulting on whether the ICC is going to amend those things which make it seem like they are targeting Africans. We are not second-class nations, and have our own institutions. Because of the ICC, the recent AU summit was a mess,”
The African Criminal Court of Justice is in the final stages of completion, and is being set up by the AU to prosecute Africans for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, instead of the cases being taken to the ICC.
Nandi-Ndaitwah added that Namibia currently remains a member of the ICC, and the issue at hand now is that the ICC should not conduct its practices unfairly towards African members.
She said the AU mandated all its members, including Namibia, to amend their statutes on the ICC to ensure that they are fair towards African member states.
“What we are saying is that we would like the ICC to play its original role and not be biased against the African continent, particularly the African leaders. What Namibia is saying is that the operations of the ICC have been seen as being against African leaders,” Nandi-Ndaitwah stated.
The AU has been trying to balance their obligations to the ICC with its obligations to the AU and individual states.
Other member states like South Africa have also indicated that they would like to pull out of the ICC.
Meanwhile the office of the President (OP) also added that proof of Geingob’s stance on the ICC is in his African Union Heads of State and Government Summit statement, and what he said during subsequent interviews and when he received courtesy calls.
At a recent press conference which he conducted on his first 100 days in office, Geingob said he believes in governance and democracy, saying Africa has good governance bodies which are able to lead Africa’s own behaviour. He added that continent does not need another institution to do so.
The ICCs precarious standing in Africa may have been further damaged by South Africa’s refusal to detain the visiting Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir’ during the AU Heads of State and Government Summit.
In the same breath, the South African government also challenged its own court for trying to prevent Al-Bashir from leaving.
Al-Bashir was permitted to attend an AU summit in South Africa, although being wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes. The SA government said he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
In addition, the South African government is also contemplating pulling out from the ICC, a process which is cumbersome as it involves first agreeing internally that it wishes to leave, then officially withdrawing from the Rome Treaty, the international law which created that court.
So far, 36 individuals have been charged by the ICC, including African leaders like Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.
Since all of the official investigations have been in Africa, the Office of the Prosecutor has been accused of selective enforcement and Western imperialism towards African countries.
Meanwhile, analysts who spoke to The Villager this week noted that once the African criminal court of justice has been finalised, Namibia should consider pulling away from the ICC. They added that the ICC has a skewed system of justice, reiterating only African leaders are targeted.
Political Analyst, Dr. Andrew Niikondo said that Namibia is bound by International laws but it is also bound by its own laws, and its own constitution.
“What I am driving to is if the AU and all its member states are not comfortable with the ICC and they want to pull out then Namibia has to follow suite. We all have heard that the ICC is targeting Africans and if other African states feel that way, Namibia also has to pull out. We should not be astray and not follow suit when the African criminal court of justice has been finalised. One of the ICC first African leaders targeted were the Nigerian leader, now the Sudanese leader and now hear talks of Robert Mugabe being targeted,” Niikondo said.
He added that, “Since the ICC is an international court, all countries should sign up. It is not an international court of Justice but rather it is just an international institution since most powerful countries are not members.”
Professor Zed Ngavirue said that people should understand the issue that made Africa support other African leaders as opposed to the ICC.
He added that, “Some people and some countries are not above the law. The ICC would be good if its laws are amended. It is a country decision whether to pull out or whether to continue being a member of these forms of discriminatory institutions. It is a skewed system of justice and if it remains that way, then the country should consider pulling away when the African criminal court of justice has been finalised,” Ngavirue said.
Senior lecturer of politics and administrative studies at the University of Namibia (Unam), Dr Hoze Riruako said African leaders have been complaining for too long about the ICC.
“The ICC has been selectively applying justice to the Africans and the same treatment should also be given to other countries. No wonder Namibia wants to pull away. Our tribunal is well established. It is a good move that Africa is starting its own court and deciding on the fate of African leaders instead of Europeans deciding on Africans’ fate,” said Riruako.
by Charmaine Ngatjiheue