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The International Criminal Court is not biased against Africans: Kofi Annan says

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general has rejected accusations that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is biased, and targets Africans. Anna said: African leaders “shouldn’t pretend that they were the first” charged at The Hague. Annan’s comments have divided opinion on social media. We ask, is the ICC biased and does the Court target Africans?

Kofi Annan has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind on politics and governance issues on the continent, and recently in another tongue-lash the former United Nations (UN) secretary general scoffed at accusations against the International Criminal Court (ICC), that the court targets African leaders.

In an interview with the Financial Times (FT), Annan weighed in on the debate and argued that African leaders should quit playing the victim, considering that political figures such as Slobodan Milosevic and others were tried for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia.

Milosevic was indicted in May 1999, by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for crimes against humanity in Kosovo and tried in The Hague before the ICC came into force in 2002.

Annan reportedly said African leaders “shouldn’t pretend that they were the first” or that the process is biased and recommended that if Africans and others cannot get justice in their domestic courts they should seek it abroad.

The court has been criticised in the past for targeting Africans and various countries have threatened to pull out of the ICC, owing to its perceived “racist,” “partisan” and skewed “prosecutorial strategy” targeting Africans. Recently, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta made a formal request to members of the country’s legislature to approve laws to pull Kenya out of the ICC.

Read: Kenya mulls International Criminal Court pull-out: Should African countries quit the court?

Annan’s comments have divided opinion on social media, with strong arguments that the ICC does indeed target Africans, while a sizeable number of social media users argue that the court is relevant and essential against the backdrop of impunity and weak domestic judicial mechanisms.

Annan has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind on pertinent issues on the continent. The former UN secretary general recently called on African leaders to leave office after serving their mandated constitutional terms. Annan warned that while the number of coups have reduced, some leaders are “creating situations which may bring them back,” by clinging on and staying on for too long.

Read: Kofi Annan advices African leaders to handover power after serving mandated terms

Social media reactions to Annan’s ICC comments and perceptions on the ICC

 

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