Filed under: August Volume 1 - 2008, International, World | Tags: Africa, ICC, Omar Bashir, Sudan
By Abu Aasim, Islamic Post Staff Writer
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who was recently indicted by chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, for war crimes in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, has appeared outraged along with much of the Arab world.
Al-Bashir and others who condemn the indictment filed by Moreno-Ocampo last month, have called the accusations politically motivated.
This is the first time the ICC has sought to prosecute a sitting head of state.
Charges against Al-Bashir include genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The accusations triggered a sharp reaction from Sudan where the government stated that it could no longer “guarantee the safety” of UN peacekeepers in Darfur, according to the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram.
The Arab League has also been less than amused by the ICC’s actions; its secretary general Amr Moussa called an emergency meeting in Cairo. Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahmud Ali Yousef presided over the meeting and the passing of a resolution which condemned Moreno-Ocampo’s stance as “unbalanced.”
Concern over the precedent that could be set by the indictment, Yousef expressed his grave concern over the situation. “The indictment sets a dangerous precedent in dealing with heads of state. It will have dangerous repercussions, not only for Sudan but also for the whole region,” said Youssef, according to Arab News Daily. Many in the region perceive the recent events as political as opposed to humanitarian. They believe the fact that the ICC has yet to have a successful prosecution has driven its prosecutor to attack someone, Al-Bashir, who is unpopular with western powers and therefore easy to convict.
The Sudanese president however is looking to his own allies in China and Russia to influence the UN Security Council to block the indictment.
By Nafisa Begum, Islamic Post Staff Writer
Congolese Militia leader, Thomas Lubanga, is on trial in the first case to be heard since the International Criminal Court (ICC) was set up in 2002.
The ICC was established under the terms of the 1998 Rome Statute and is independent of the United Nations. To date, more than 100 countries have ratified the relevant treaty, however certain key countries have not: the United States, Russia, China, India and Japan. Three of whom are part of the Group of Eight (G 8) countries and the other two, China and India part of the G 8’s “Outreach Five.”
Lubanga went to trial in 2006, with two other detainees, former Congolese warlords Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo, after arrest warrants were issued in 2005 on charges of murder, human trafficking and the use of child soldiers.
French judge Claude Jorda said: “There are reasons to believe that Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is legally responsible (for) … the enrollment of children under 15. As a result, the court confirms the charges and rules that [he] should appear before a court for trial.” He stands accused of abducting children and forcing their participation in attacks headed by his group, the Union of Congolese Patriots (UCP) and its military wing, the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of the Congo (FLPC), during 2002 and 2003. Over 30,000 children were associated with forced combat militias when the conflict was at its height.
Lubanga’s defense team is requesting his release due to delays in the proceeding. Accusations have been directed at prosecutors for withholding over two hundred documents vital to helping prepare Lubanga’s defense.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a state built on the human rights violations of King Leopold II of Belgium, who privately owned the territory. It was called the Congo Free State, and was established in 1885 by means of deception for the sole purposes of economic exploitation.
The Congo has seen millions of its people displaced. An estimated 6 million have died due to violence, hunger and disease. The conflicts between Hema, Lendu, and militia groups, have killed millions in the fight for the control of gold mines and taxation.
The Congo Region, like most of Africa, has been the victim of one corrupt government after another. All have committed unthinkable acts in the name of greed.
Human rights groups, which represent the victims, have stated that Lubanga’s charges should also include the atrocities of rape, torture and killings as related to Uganda, and the Central African Republic. Both of which have been the sight of continued human rights abuses.
By Durdana Jamaal Qadria, Islamic Post Staff Writer
There was no doubt Robert Mugabe would win the election considering the fact that many in opposition were jailed, missing or believed dead.
With Morgan Tsvangirai losing the popular vote to Mugabe in March, Mugabe was standing in a one-man race. His race was riddled with fear, threats and possible death to those who would stand in opposition even after Tsvangirai lost. Of the opposition, 90 had been killed, 2,000 were jailed, 10,000 assaulted and injured and 200,000 were displaced in the run-up to the vote.
Unlike his counterpart, Mr. Tsvangirai considered the lives of the people over whom he wanted to preside by pulling out of the presidential race last month, saying he could not ask his supporters to vote “when that vote would cost them their lives.”
Although the obvious threat of retribution at the hands of Mugabe’s agents was present, Tsvangirai remained on the ballot and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans voted in his favor.
Few were surprised by the declaration that the elections were not free and fair. The Pan-African parliament wants a new vote when the environment is “conducive” for a valid poll.
A Pan-African parliament monitor said that he had spoken to voters from a squatter camp who told him that they were voting for Mugabe because their home would have been destroyed if they refused to comply.
Going against the rest of the world, Robert Mugabe continued to go ahead with the voting process; however he looked a bit subdued at his inauguration in Harare on Sunday. If all continues according to his plan, he will preside over the country for a sixth term.
This sixth term will come at a major price for him and his country. He will now face growing scrutiny, stricter sanctions and even warrant armed peacekeepers to enter his country as a result of his stolen presidency. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “I think that a very good argument can be made for having an international force to restore peace.” The U.S. said that it will call for UN action against Zimbabwe such as an arms embargo. US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice made it a point to say, “It makes sense to deny the government of Zimbabwe the means to conduct violence against its own people.”
His arrogant behavior knows no bounds as he stated that “only God” could remove him from power; but, after such a statement, he now realizes that he may be forced to share his authority to some degree. Forced to eat his words, just before his trip was due to depart for the African Union Summit, he promised to hold “serious talks” with those in opposition to his election.
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Movement for Democratic Change, said, “But when all is said and done, there has to be dialogue about a transitional period that would lead to a free and fair election.
He continued, “The politicians of this country need to set aside their egos and think of the future of this country. We need to put a full stop on our people’s suffering.”