[Marxism] African Union urges members to ignore warrant for Gadhafi
ffeldman at verizon.net
Sun Jul 3 06:10:36 MDT 2011
African Union calls on member states to disregard ICC arrest warrant against
By Associated Press, Published: July 2
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea - The body representing nations in Africa called
on its members to disregard the International Criminal Court's arrest
warrant for Moammar Gadhafi, an official confirmed Saturday, in a move that
seriously weakens the tribunal's ability to bring the embattled Libyan
leader to justice.
The decision passed by the 53-member African Union late Friday states that
the warrant against Gadhafi "seriously complicates" efforts by the
organization to find a solution to the Libyan crisis.
AU executive Jean Ping also told reporters that the ICC is "discriminatory"
and only goes after crimes committed in Africa, while ignoring those he says
were committed by Western powers in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and
"With this in mind, we recommend that the member states do not cooperate
with the execution of this arrest warrant," said the motion, which was shown
to The Associated Press and whose passage was confirmed by Daniel Adugna, a
spokesman in the AU commissioner's office.
If countries in Africa abide by the recommendation, it opens the possibility
that Gadhafi could avoid prosecution by seeking refuge on the soil of his
That has been the case for President Hissene Habre, who is accused of
thousands of political killings and the systematic torture of his opponents
when he ruled Chad, from 1982 to 1990, before fleeing to Senegal. He has yet
to face a trial even though Senegal agreed in 2006 to create a special court
to try him.
Habre has become a symbol of Africa's inability to try its own, and on
Friday the AU attempted to address this in a parallel decision, expressing
its frustration with Senegal's foot-dragging, which has included claims that
the trial would be too expensive.
"The trial of Hissene Habre is a challenge that the AU and its member states
must address vigorously in the context of the principle of rejection of
impunity," according to the progress report on the case. "It is incumbent on
Senegal in accordance with its international obligations to take steps to
bring Hissene Habre to trial, or extradite him."
A total of 31 states in Africa are signatories to the International Criminal
Court, representing nearly a third of the nations where the mandate applies.
However, there has been increasing malaise in Africa over the ICC, which has
been denounced by the continent's entrenched rulers as an instrument of
Being a signatory has not always signaled compliance, and Sudanese President
Omar al-Bashir, who was indicted of charges of genocide in Darfur, has been
able to thumb his nose at the court, repeatedly flying to friendly nations
like Kenya without arrest.
Diplomats present during this week's AU summit in Malabo said that although
they support the court, they agree with the AU's claim that the warrant
complicates effort to end the crisis in Libya.
"If he knows he has nowhere to go, he will fight till the end. He would
rather die than be tried," according to a Western diplomat who requested
anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Gadhafi's chief of staff Bashir Saleh, who traveled to Malabo to attend the
summit, applauded the AU's decision, holding a copy of it in his hand on
Friday evening as the heads of state emerged for their declaration following
a day of closed-door deliberations on Libya.
They announced that they were inviting the warring sides to talks which will
begin soon in Addis Ababa and which aim to put in place a transitional
government that will oversee state affairs until new elections can be held.
Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim welcomed the AU's decision not to
enforce the ICC warrant, repeating the government's position that the court
is an "imperialist" institution that only targets African leaders, but not
"The ICC is a European Guantanamo Bay. It's only against the African
leaders. It never deals with the crimes committed by the United States of
America ... and by the European powers ... everywhere in the world."
Adam Schreck in Tripoli contributed to this report.
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