Kagame tells why he is against ICC charging Bashir

Sunday August 3 2008



Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. Photo/REUTERS

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. Photo/REUTERS 

By KEZIO-MUSOKE DAVID NATION Correspondent

KIGALI, Sunday - President Paul Kagame has lashed out at the International Criminal Court (ICC) referring to the Hague based tribunal as a, ‘fraudulent institution.’

Kagame’s remarks come just weeks after the ICC’s prosecutor, Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo sought the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Asked what his impression was on Mr Bashir’s indictment, Mr Kagame said: “If you use a fraudulent mechanism or institution against somebody who needs to be held accountable, in the end you are not helping people understand whether this person needs to be held accountable. The mere fact is that the system and institution you are using has flaws.”

Mr Kagame, one of the biggest critics of the nature in which some international laws like the principle of ‘universal jurisdiction’ are used.

Mr Kagame told journalists “Rwanda cannot be party to ICC for one simple reason … with ICC all the injustices of the past including colonialism, imperialism, keep coming back in different forms. They control you. As long as you are poor, weak there is always some rope to hang you”.“ICC is made for Africans and poor countries.

‘‘Two thirds of the countries that have signed for this ICC are these poor countries. When they were signing (the treaty) they didn’t know what they were signing. They don’t know they were signing for a rope to hang themselves,” Mr Kagame added.

Try individuals

The ICC is a permanent international tribunal to try individuals - not states, responsible for some of the most serious international crimes. It gives the tribunal the right to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

To date the ICC has opened investigations into four situations in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic and in Darfur. According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) only seven countries including China, Libya, Iraq, and the United States voted against the establishment of this treaty.

As of July 2008, 108 states have ratified the ICC treaty with Rwanda yet to be among these countries.“There are other issues Sudan is known for. Rwanda already has an experience of locking horns with two European judges over indictments issued using the principal of ‘universal jurisdiction.’

In 2006 a French judge implicated the Rwandan leader and nine of his top officials in the 1994 assassination of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. Recently another Spanish judge issued indictments against 40 senior officers of the Rwanda Defence Forces.