“ICC is a political arm of Europe in Africa”, David Hoile

Discussion in 'Africa' started by sudani, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. sudani

    sudani New Member

    Aug 18, 2010
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    David Hoile (Ph.D.) is a scholar and a public affairs consultant specializing in African affairs. He has been working with the British parliament for several years.
    He has been the Director of the European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council. He is a research professor at the University of Nyala in Darfur and is also a visiting professor at the Institute of African and Asian Studies and the Department of political science at the University of Khartoum in Sudan.
    Hoile is the author of several works on Africa and particularly on Sudan including “Darfur in Perspective (2005)”, “Images of Sudan: Case Studies in Propaganda and Misrepresentation (2003)” and "Farce Majeure: The Clinton Administration's Sudan Policy 1993-2000 (2000)”. He is also the author or editor of a number of other publications on African affairs, including “Mozambique: A Nation in Crisis (1989).”
    He is known for defending President Omar Al-Bashir’s position against the ICC arrest warrant. Currently he authored “The International Criminal Court: Europe’s Guantanamo Bay?” where he labeled the institute as a “political instrument of Europe on Africa.”
    He also attended the recent Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) on ICC.
    Yemane Nagish of The Reporter spoke with him about the ICC and his latest book. Excerpts:

    The Reporter: Why are you interested in the International Criminal Court (ICC)?

    Professor David Hoile: I am interested in law fare: the means of legal instruments as a means of war. When you abuse institutions, like the ICC does to Africa, as a means of weapon. So law fare is a new phenomena, a new aspect which is in reality making war. And the ICC has been used as a weapon vis-a-vis African countries.

    What is your ground to argue that the ICC is used as a weapon in Africa?

    There are a number of indicators. The ICC in reality is not an international court; basically, it’s a European court. Most of the world population is not covered in the ICC. China is not there, the US is not there, Russia is not there, so the ICC is in essence a European court: European funded, European jury, European directed.

    In many cases, the ICC has been used as an instrument of European foreign policy towards Africa, to destabilize Africa; destabilize governments, destabilize or destroy peace processes in Africa. In any instance it has unintended consequences. Maybe some are unintended, but there is an intentional aspect in some cases.

    We usually hear that the European Union (EU) and its member countries are keen to make peace in Africa. But now you are saying that Europe wants to see a destabilized Africa. Is that not a contradiction?

    That is a crime, but the actual reality is that the ICC itself has destroyed peace processes in Africa. In Uganda, for example, the Lord’s Resistance Army had appeared from the bush for the first time in ten to fifteen years. It had engaged in internationally mediated peace meetings, and just when things were looking good for a peaceful resolution to Uganda’s terrible conflict, the ICC chose to issue an arrest warrant. And what happened to the Lords? They went back to the bush, of course, and on top of that the war continued in Uganda and then moved into Eastern DRC, now spreading as far as the Central African Republic. So the actions of the court escalated the war in Uganda, DRC and CAR. This is one clear example, and Europeans have assisted. Actually, they have the same policy as that pursued by the ICC. One important reason why Europe and the West want to destabilize Africa is the wealth resource base; precious metals, agricultural, oil, gas, huge amounts are in Africa. So, they want to control the battle in Africa, and certain governments may need to be destabilized as part of the process; destabilize the military, destabilize the government. That maybe by accident, or intentional through use of the ICC. It is increasingly being used as an instrument of Western policy, and the US has been known to take part.

    But the US is not a member yet?

    That’s why it’s not a member of the ICC – the US says that the ICC is not fulfilling its purpose. This is not a real court, it is unreliable and open to political views. At the same time, the US was very happy to use it as an instrument to send presidents Gaddafi and Al- Bashir to the ICC. So they are happy for Africans to be subjected to substandard justice. But no American citizen should go to the ICC. This is the American position. So, because the Americans dominate the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), they are in a position to refer cases to the ICC, even though they are not a member. Even though two of the five UNSC permanent members are not members of the ICC, they still used it as an instrument. And for the Americans it is very clerical – it’s a political instrument. Europeans are pretending it is not a political institution. It’s political.

    But still 34 African states are members of the court. Why do African leaders not understand that the purpose of the court is for political means?

    Well, I think we have to look back – the concept of the court was tricky. The purpose: to end impurity, to end superpower abuse. Hence, there was a special hope in the developing world, and particularly Africa, that this will be used to restrict American foreign policy and its actions in the world. The reality has been very different. The single fact is that the court has avoided any action in even defining the term, let alone taking action on serious crimes. Why? The USA wouldn’t have accepted the formation of the court. So, the ideology in 1998 and 2002 is different from the court we see now in the Hague. Many Africans joined because they had a belief in the court, ten years later they now know the reality of the court, it is not a real court. It’s a political tribunal just for Africa.

    Why is it a surprise to see this international court focusing on African cases, home to several dictators, and where genocide and crimes against humanity is common? Do we have same instances anywhere else in the world?

    Again a very important question, and I think we have a prime example of this. The most serious crime internationally is waging aggression. The events in Iraq and Afghanistan were clearly waging war and aggression. With Iraq, for example, even Bush’s own journals reported that 600,000 civilians were killed on purpose, of which about 300,000 joined the coalition forces – the forces that invaded and occupied Iraq. This is a tremendous number of people. There are several serious crimes taking place all over the world that the ICC does not focus on for political purposes.

    The ICC rather focuses on issues like that of Guinea, where 150 people were killed, or the destruction of religious buildings in Mali. These are sad but they are not the source of crime that the ICC is expected to deal with, Africa has to address its own problems; justice is a very critical matter to focus and promise. The simple fact is the intervention of the court is the ICC-Western white European court – basically, on Africa, which has internal consequences, selective justices, western justice that differs from the reality of Africa. So, you may have serious crimes in Africa, but again many of them are ignored. For example, in Uganda and the DRC, the ICC has issued an arrest warrant on rebels, for unspecific crimes, where larger government crimes are ignored, because the ICC is working with the government. So, it can’t do its work, because it is a political institute.

    In most parts of the world, the voice of the public is respected, there are responsible governments and independent courts. This is not the case in Africa. And the ICC would claim to serve this purpose, in the context that genocide is common, and courts are believed to be an instrument of the dictators.

    Of course, that’s a good point, let me give you a nice example. In Britain, very recently, the government fought a civil war in a first-world European Union country – Northern Ireland. There were very serious crimes. There are allegations that the government used militia. But they were putting peace before justice. So there was in effect an amnesty for these who were involved. Those who were arrested were freed. When an African country comes to civil war, they say… no, you can’t decide your own future. You have to bring justice before peace. Those stages are important, let me give you one more example. In 2009, a German army colonel, serving in Afghanistan as a part of the NATO Forces, ordered an air strike that killed 140 civilians; very nasty, very well documented. He accepted that he was responsible. He broke every single rule of Nato. He deliberately did that. Yet the German government, which is at the heart of ICC, and a big funder of the ICC, refused to prosecute him. Two ministers resigned as a result, but the man was promoted to general. Germany is an ICC member state, Afghanistan is also member state. In Africa, the case is very different. Take DRC, you have a Congo man who was accused of killing 200 people. He spends 5 years in custody before he was charged.

    Your new book is entitled, “ICC: Europe’s Guantanamo Bay”. Can you explain why?

    Yes, because you can draw a very close compass between the ICC and America’s International Tribunal court. Both say we have international jurisdiction. So, the Americans unilaterally arrest someone from Afghanistan, Pakistan… With the ICC, let’s take the case with president Al-Bashir. Sudan is not a member of the ICC, never has been and never will be. So, you have a court at the Hague acting on behalf of the UNSC inviting a national of a non-member of the ICC. The Americans say we want this man and that man, it is very arrogant.

    I have a new publication called “ICC, Europe’s Guantanamo on Africa”. It is much larger and will be published next January.

    In your book, some of your criticism goes to the extent of saying that the ICC carries out its work using unqualified judges?

    Yes. Some are not judges. They have never been judges. It is just one more extraordinary feature of this court. It claims to be the most senior international court, to intervene in very difficult and serious human crimes. Anybody would expect that it would have judges of the highest caliber, people with the best minds in the world. The reality is again very different. We have judges at the ICC who have never been lawyers, let alone judges. They may be diplomats or retired politicians. There are very few real judges, experienced with the legal and court procedure of the ICC – this is one the manifestation of the court. First of all, the court has existed for ten year. It has completed only one or two cases in these years. And the first case, against Thomas Lobanga (DRC), was actually comparatively minor. This is not a main crime or genocide, or aggression. Part of the reason why it is incompetent is because of the judges, and the incompetence of its prosecuting office.

    The Ethiopian prime minister, who is also chairman of the AU, has allegedly accused the ICC of being racist. What is your reaction?

    This argument has been very vocal. I think they have identified exactly the weaknesses of this court. The point he made is valid, the court is a racist court. For example, let’s have a look at a court in the UK, which is meant to be trying serious crimes. What happens if that court prosecutes black people, not brown, white or Asian. What do you call that court? A racist court. It is exactly the same. So the Ethiopian PM was absolutely right in making the point, “They are hunting” Africans. You can see every single case the ICC has looked at has come from Africa. It has more than 80,000 cases from 139 countries that it hasn’t investigated.

    You attended the extraordinary summit of the AU in Addis this week, and this was the main agenda. Do you think the African leaders came up with valued resolutions when looked at practically?

    I think it is exactly right that Africa had to make its position very clear. Many African countries are members of the ICC, and Africa has given it the benefit of the doubt for a long time. Requests were ignored by the ICC and UN. So this is actually a very serious AU response to a very serious problem within Africa. Because the ICC is responsible for a number of problems in Africa. It has destroyed several peace processes. So, the summit was very important and urgent. The impact would also be important, it has got the world’s attention. The effectiveness, I’m not sure, because we have a very arrogant court, intent on taking down Africa. And we have a UNSC that has been using it as a political tool. The other problem is that the ICC is a billion Euro industry. It will be reluctant to reform itself, but if two or three African states withdraw it could become irrelevant.

    A reaction, the European Union will blackmail Africa, cutting aid for African states, for the reason that they are not cooperating with the ICC. Africa would have to expect a very dirty response from the European Union and European states.

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