Friday, August 8, 2008

ICC, Africa, and Europe

There was the Special Court for Sierra Leone; the ICTR for Rwanda, and now ICC indictments (or pending indictments) of a number of Africans, including the sitting head of state of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir.

A quiet critique (previously blogged) has been emerging that the ICC is using Africa as its laboratory. Another critique is that the ICC will never go after someone, let alone a sitting head of state, from a World Power.

A new twist on these ongoing critiques was in the news today with Rwanda accusing the late Francois Mitterrand and other French officials of complicity of genocide, as reported by and The Economist.

Background, via

France’s backing of the previous Rwandan regime, led by President Juvenal Habyarimana, is regarded by many analysts as the nadir of its decades-long engagement in French-speaking Africa. The regime, dominated by ethnic Hutus,
created the conditions in which Hutu extremists orchestrated the murder of
800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a 100-day killing spree that marked
the apogee of years of systematic anti-Tutsi violence.

Mr Kagame, who came to power after leading a Tutsi rebel army that drove those responsible for the genocide out of the country, has long accused France of playing an active role in the killings.

Some of the accusations include:
France was aware of preparations for the genocide; that it participated in them by training Rwandan troops; that its own soldiers allowed the genocide to continue in an area they were deployed to secure a safe zone; and that they actively participated in the genocide elsewhere. (from

So, it remains to be seen how a major Western Power responds to accusations of international crimes from an African nation. Will it co-operate in investigations? Will it operate under its own domestic law, under Rwandan law, under an ad-hoc tribunal, or what if it is referred to the ICC Prosecutor?

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