Genocidaire Bashir & the Johannesburg Skedaddle By Adeleke Omotayo
Sudanese head of state Omar al-Bashir started his week on a fleeting note (what a symphony!) at the African Union’s (AU) 25th Summit hosted by South Africa. The event is supposed to be a platform where African leaders get to address multifaceted problems confronting the continent at large devising African models. Well, it turned out Bashir had been scheming other plans about the summit.
Bashir, on the record, is wanted for trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for some time now for war crimes in the Darfur war, crimes against humanity and of course genocide. The AU summi’st host, South Africa, is a signatory of the Rome Statute that established the international court. Consequently it is imperative the African state honor its obligations as a signatory member standing for the values and ideals of the court. It seems it is a simple scenario here, a member state complying with statutes to make the world a better place less ridden with criminals against humanity but there is a lacuna that is bound to tell on the commitment of member nations.
This is the part where complication queries, the clash between ‘national’ interest and international obligation. I bet not all international bodies amply stipulate in the establishing charter or statute a rightful call of action when complexities manifest. In fact, the entry of obligatory complexity in a constitution should logically precede an outline to what the right call of action should be and its nature.
When such clash subsists, there is no glory for heroism or shame for villainy. President Jacob Zuma and his ANC party were neither heroes nor villains last week for desecrating the rule of law (by disregarding an interim court order issued to arrest al-Bashir), for fiddling with clear duty especially when justice for thousands of Sudanese nationals were denied in assisting a sitting president’s escape and for buttressing the pan-african argument that ICC unfairly target Africans in dispensing international justice.
I observed South Africans’ gutted reactions over the media. Majority do not care even if ICC was disdained or that their government’s crooked foreign policy facilitated the evasion of justice of a fugitive-cum-dictator. Nah. They showed intense anger at how the government disregarded the rule of law. This certainly does not bode well for constitutionalism in South Africa. If Zuma could, with impunity, shun court orders what can he not do to cut civil rights in the future? Liberty indeed is bleak for South Africans.
Furthermore, it is time we came to grips with the fact that the AU has not been quick to swinging into actions (nominal ‘action’ here) of any sort. Sad thing, rather, that the agents who peddle the crimes and injustice responsible for the continent’s lag are the proponents of a United Africa under the guise of the AU leadership. The Uncle Robert and Nkurunziza (don’t be deceived, his credibility is not as svelte as his first name) of this world, the powers and principalities in high places.
The world shall not respect Africa until it stops courting the evils that stunts it.
Al-Bashir will definitely not have it cozy with civil right groups further as he is having a long standoff with them in all the African countries he visited after the ICC call. This is a sign that it is not the case that Africa has turned its back against the ICC –the antithesis to Mugabe’s quips this week.
Following the Johannesburg’s skedaddle, it is not going to be business as usual for war-crime fugitives and officials undercutting the international court- the only positive to cite from the 25th AU summit.
The ICC need to clean up- Pretoria and al-Bashir hurled those eggs hard on it. The pained court sure is capable than the weak role it appears to be. Relying on the obligatory imperative of member states to arrest apparently is not enough bringing international crooks to book. I suggest ICC work (so far its within its jurisdiction) with the large African activist network that has showed unwavering support for the court’s work to bring justice for serious crimes on the continent for the sake of victims who deserve it.
Who else is uncool with Mr. Robert’s ‘face of Africa’ honcho cosmetics?