HARARE, Oct 11 – Zimbabwe supports calls for African states to cut ties with the International Criminal Court amid claims that the tribunal targets leaders from the continent, a government official said on Friday.
“We are not for it (ICC), we do not agree with the statute,” Joey Bimha, Zimbabwe’s secretary for foreign affairs, told AFP.
Africa’s position on the role of the Hague-based tribunal is expected to be discussed at this weekend’s African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
African countries account for 34 of the 122 parties to have ratified the Rome Statute, the court’s founding treaty, which took effect on July 1, 2002.
“We did not sign that Roman Statute because we did not agree with some of the provisions,” said Bimha.
Some countries in the 54-member bloc have accused the ICC of targeting Africans in its prosecutions, like the high-profile case of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Two years ago, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told the UN General Assembly that the ICC was targeting leaders from developing countries for prosecution while turning a “blind eye” to crimes by Western leaders.
He said the court “seems to exist only for alleged offenders of the developing world, the majority of them Africans.”
“The leaders of the powerful western states guilty of international crime, like George Bush and Tony Blair, are routinely given the blind eye. Such selective justice has eroded the credibility of the ICC on the African continent,” he added.
The ICC recently sentenced former Liberian president Charles Taylor to 50-years in prison after he was found guilty of crime against humanity.
As Liberia’s president from 1997 to 2003, Taylor supplied guns and ammunition to rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone in a conflict notorious for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers and sex slaves, judges said.
This week, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, during his visit to South Africa, dismissed claims that the ICC unfairly targets African leaders.
Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was the first sitting head of state to be indicted for war crimes.