This Is Why People Think the ICC Is Unfairly Targeting Africa

by Kevin Jon Heller

Snapshot of two days in the life of the ICC.

On Tuesday, the ICC issued a new arrest warrant in the Libya situation — for Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a commander in the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), which defected from the Libyan army during the revolution and is currently vying for power with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). The arrest warrant represents a new phase in the ICC’s completely unsuccessful investigation in Libya, as it is the first to focus on events that happened after the revolution. There is no reason to believe, however, that the warrant for al-Werfalli will be any more successful than the ones for Gaddafi and al-Senussi: the LNA has already made clear they will not surrender him to the ICC, and the GNA has zero prospect at present of capturing him.

On Wednesday, Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, instructed his police to shoot human-rights activists who are “obstructing justice” by investigating his war against (alleged) drug dealers. That war has involved at least 7,000 extrajudicial killings in the past 13 months and has featured Duterte openly admitting not only that he has ordered the extrajudicial kilings, but that he has personally committed themHuman-rights groups and even a Philippine senator have called for the ICC to open an investigation into the situation.

There seems to be little question that al-Werfalli is guilty of ordering and participating in more than two dozen summary executions of captured soldiers — remarkably, there is video to that effect. But al-Werfalli is one military commander among hundreds responsible for horrific crimes in Libya. Duterte, by contrast, is the President of one of the only states in Southeast Asia that has ratified the Rome Statute. Even if he never ended up in the ICC’s dock, a formal investigation of the situation that he has almost single-handedly created in the Philippines would do more to deter the commission of international crimes than 500 arrest warrants for thugs like al-Werfalli. Yet despite issuing a strong statement making clear that the Court has jurisdiction over the situation and could prosecute individuals responsible for international crimes, there is no indication that the OTP has seriously contemplated opening a formal investigation in the Philippines.

The ICC fiddles in Benghazi while Manila burns. And yet the ICC claims not to understand why so many people think it’s obsessed with Africa.

http://opiniojuris.org/2017/08/17/this-is-why-people-think-the-icc-is-unfairly-targeting-africa/

2 Responses

  1. As a long-time supporter of the institution, it’s hard for me to come to terms with the fact that ICC OTP heads are, well, for the lack of better word, a bunch of cowards. Wilful killing in Iraq? Nope. Torture in Afghanistan? Nope. Georgia indictments? Nope, it has only been ten years. Ukraine? Well, that would require ruling on Russia’s involvement – nope, let’s wait twenty years for this one. Gaza? Who would want to involve themselves there. The Philippines? Let’s wait for the body count to triple, and then we’ll see, so nope.

    One could only recall how quickly the indictments were issued for Qaddafi & co. Sad joke, really. Fifteen years in, ICC – and OTP mostly – has nothing to show for it.

  2. Libya is at the African continent but there are of course two different Africas (north and south to the Sahara). So, I think on the contrary, more arrest warrants in northern Africa means the ICC tries to expand its actual jurisdiction…

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