Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has asked African governments to come up with concrete steps to provide justice to its citizens.
Mr Odinga said he is disturbed by attempts to demonise institutions that seek to provide relief to citizens who have suffered abuse in the hands of the leaders.
Addressing students and staff of the University of Pretoria on Wednesday evening, Mr Odinga said increasing attacks on the International Criminal Court by Africa’s leaders were disturbing and hypocritical.
He said it was difficult to understand why leaders who voluntarily appended their signatures to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC have turned around to condemn the same institution.
“Human rights are universal. There are no human rights for Asians, Europeans and Africans. Africa will only shield itself from the external world when it develops sufficient will and capacity to deal with conflicts satisfactorily and sufficiently,” Mr Odinga said during a session on "The Future of Democracy in Africa".
The session was part of the wider program on "The Cost of Democracy" organised by Boston University’s African Presidential Centre.
Betrayal of ideals
The former PM said that Africans are suffering as a result of the betrayal of the ideals that informed the struggle for independence.
"Independence has come. The leadership comprised those who had fought for basic freedoms of expression, speech, association and movement. We assumed the leaders understood the pain of being denied these freedoms. They understood the pain of inequitable distribution of resources.
“They knew the pain of being discriminated against on the basis of tribe, race, religion and place of origin. They would not commit such sins against their own people. Today, we know we were wrong,” Mr Odinga said.
He lamented that the struggle that the African people have had to endure in the years after independence have been as vicious and sometimes more vicious than what they waged against the colonialists.
“It has been a struggle laced with the pain of being betrayed by a brother, an uncle, a father, a neighbour, and a friend. Where are we to turn?” he posed.
Mr Odinga said lack of clear plans for tackling the abuse meted out on the population had seen Africa rely on external forces.
He defended the ICC from accusations that it targeted African leaders saying the continent was a victim of its own failures.
Mr Odinga said African leaders facing charges at the ICC were referred by their countries.
He said Kenya voted to have the post election violence suspects tried at The Hague while Laurent Gbagbo, Charles Taylor and Joseph Kony have all been referred to the same court by their respective countries.
The leaders said national courts should handle the trials. The African leaders resolved this during the 21st ordinary session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.