Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - Page 9 News List

African nation claims victimization on withdrawal from court

The trials of two elected Kenyan leaders, added to a list of mostly African names, has led some nations to question the International Criminal Court’s integrity

By Pascal Fletcher and Edmund Blair  /  Reuters, JOHANNESBURG and NAIROBI

Many Africans, especially victims of tyrannical rulers, doubt whether impartial and prompt justice can be found on their own continent after years of inaction or slow responses in the face of horrors like the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

“For people to say that African crimes must be judged in Africa is a mistake,” said Clement Abaifouta, who spent four years in the 1980s as a political prisoner in the jails of former Chadian leader Hissene Habre, who is now facing charges in Senegal of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture.

“The law has no color, no place, it must condemn those who have done evil,” said Abaifouta, who runs a victims’ association.

After a long exile in Senegal, Habre now faces trial there in a court backed by the AU and funded by foreign donors — an ad hoc solution, similar to the UN-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone, which Akuffo called “better than nothing.”

Whatever the problems of location, victims want a hearing, said Human Rights Watch’s Brody: “In the end, this is not so much about where justice takes place, but whether it does.”

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