Former President John Dramani Mahama has called on African countries threatening to quit the International Criminal Court not to pull out.
The relationship of the African Union and the International Criminal Court has hit the rocks in recent years.
South Africa, Kenya, Burundi and some other African countries have all threatened to quit the ICC because its obligations are inconsistent with laws giving sitting leaders diplomatic immunity.
South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court was on Wednesday ruled “unconstitutional and invalid” by the High Court in that country.
However, speaking in an interview with Power 98.7 FM, in South Africa Thursday, former President Mahama stated that African leaders who have not committed any crime against humanity must not be suspicious of the ICC.
“ICC’s target is not African Leaders, the ICC target is any person who has perpetuated crimes against humanity.
“One of the major issues the African Union has had is the fact that the ICC has always been quick to target African Leaders and has not been quick to target when other atrocities are taking place in other areas of the world.
“For instance there are wars going on in Syria and all those other wars that are taking place, I mean just imagine the number of people who are being killed and yet the focus of the court has been to criminalise and prosecute African leaders and we believe that should not be the case.
“Ghana continues to be a member of the ICC and I don’t anticipate that we are going to pull out from the ICC and I don’t encourage African leaders to pull out of the ICC. I believe that continental organisation’s voice has been loud enough for the ICC to understand that its orientation must not be targeting of African leaders.”
As of October 12, 2010, 114 countries were state parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Of these, 31 are African States, 15 are Asian states, 18 are from Eastern Europe, 25 are Latin American and Caribbean, and 25 are from Western European and elsewhere.
Thus, African countries constitute the majority based on continental figures.
The frosty relationship between the African Union and the ICC started when chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir last July, accusing him of war crimes in Darfur.
At the time, several African countries, including Comoros, Djibouti, and Senegal, called on African states to withdraw en masse from the statute in protest, saying the court targeted Africa.