African leaders are raising concern over the actions of the 11-year old court of last resort, the International Criminial Court (ICC), where the eight cases that are currently active and the twenty-one defendents are all from Africa, Washington Post reported Sunday. The article quoted Richard Dicker from Human Rights Watch who countered Africa’s arguments saying that African nations cannot deny redress to victims (in Darfur or Kenya) just because it is not possible to provide victims in Sri Lanka justice, implying that while ICC has failed to go after war-criminals in Sri Lanka even after the UN’s Petrie Report has accused Sri Lanka of killing more than 70,000 Tamil civilians in the no-fire zone, this is not sufficient to deny african victims redress through the Court.
African leaders say that comparable crimes elsewhere in the world are being ignored and that race is a factor in the decision-making. With Kenya’s president and deputy president on trial, African leaders are pushing for changes that some ICC advocates say would undermine the court completely, the Washington Post said in its ICC coverage.
The ICC has not shown any inclination to investigate Palitha Kohona, an Australian citizen of Sri Lankan origin who has been charged with complicity to genocide in papers filed with the ICC. Australia is a signatory to Rome Statute which provides jurisdiction to the ICC to prosecute Australians for war-crimes.
In 2009, Bruce Fein, counsel for a US-based Tamil activist group Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), in a letter sent to Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) Hon. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, urging him to open investigations for war crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes against four high-level officials of the Sri Lanka Government, and received no response.
O’Campo earlier initimated to a CNN reporter that since Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the Rome Statute ICC does not have jurisdiction to investigate Sri Lanka crimes. Only the UN Security Council should provide the mandate to the UN Chief Prosecutor to indict Sri Lanka, or the Secretary General should establish a tribunal similar to what was established for Yugoslavia and Rwanda.