Kigali, Rwanda – Rwandan President Paul Kagame has repeated his harsh criticism of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for what he calls open bias against Africa, saying it has failed to mete out justice in any other part of the world.
“The ICC was supposed to address the whole world, but it ended up covering only Africa,” Kagame said on Saturday at a meeting with British-Sudanese telecoms tycoon and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.
“From the time of its inception, I said there was a fraud basis on which it was set up and how it was going to be used. I told people that this would be a court to try Africans, not people from across the world.
“And I don’t believe I have been proven wrong.”
The permanent court in the Netherlands was established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court treaty in 1998 in order to prosecute and punish individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
It entered into force in 2012.
But in recent years a number of African countries have threatened or announced plans to withdraw from The Hague-based court over what they call the court’s disproportionate targeting of the continent.
To date, all but one of the ICC’s 10 investigations have been in Africa and its five convicted suspects are from Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Mali.
“There are many people across the world who should be tried by the court,” Kagame said.
“Some leaders from African countries who are being tried by the ICC, whatever they are being tried for, [their crimes] have been committed in partnership with other countries, which the ICC don’t try.”
Rwanda is not a party of the Rome Statute and Kagame himself has been a consistent and long-standing critic of the ICC, calling it in 2008 a “fraudulent institution”.
In later war, his stance was interpreted by some as a means to protect military commanders over their alleged support of rebel groups in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
However, Lonzen Rugira, a Rwandan political analyst, said Kagame’s criticism of the ICC was because of its “politicised agenda”.
“The ICC has become a tool for controlling Africa,” he said.
“Kagame believes that there should be a mechanism for victims to seek justice but that is not present with the ICC.
“Moreover, just because the ICC has a few black judges doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to manipulation, rather their ‘blackness’ is a tool used to circumvent any criticism against the ICC, and that’s what Kagame is getting at.”