‘TOOTHLESS’: International Criminal Court in The Hague
NOT SINCE the video of the torture and killing of Liberian president Samuel Doe at the hands of rebels, have I seen the murder of a leader as crude and cruel as the killing of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Ironically, some of the rebels that killed Samuel Doe were trained by someone called ‘Colonel Gaddafi of Libya’.
In Gaddafi’s last minutes, men repeatedly yelled “God is great!” as they reportedly sodomised, beat, ripped the hair out of and then killed their 69-year-old captive. In doing so, they also killed any chance of salvaging a measure of dignity and respectability for their Western-handed revolution.
Gaddafi lost this contest in a huge way. He lost his country, his manhood and his life. But Gaddafi was not the biggest loser of the Libyan revolution. That is a title reserved for the toothless and misleadingly titled International Criminal Court (ICC).
For a long time now, the allegation has been that the ICC is a tool used by powerful nations to keep weak ones (and usually African ones) in their place. Indeed whilst unbelievable crimes – such as the war in Iraq – perpetrated by powerful Western nations (or crimes committed by despotic administrations favoured by Western nations) go unquestioned and unpunished by the ICC, internal security issues within Africa quickly lead to ICC indictments. They are right to levy many of these charges. However, consistency is key, and without it prosecution becomes persecution.
Consistency would have also served as a deterrent and could have helped prevent this conflict.
Gaddafi never changed. He was always a gangster and flagrant violator of human rights – he never hid it, even after Tony Blair ‘brought him in from the cold’. The ICC paid him no attention whatsoever up until the moment the West considered him vulnerable enough to be disposed of. Only then did the ICC realise that they had a job to do. When he was torturing people on our behalf, funnelling money into our institutions, buying our arms, and providing seemingly harmless comedic fodder – the ICC was mute.
Then the West labelled Gaddafi ‘illegitimate’. And the ICC leapt into action. In doing so they did little more than reaffirm why they should not be taken seriously. It was shocking that ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo would publicly accuse Gaddafi of handing out Viagra to his soldiers in a bid to encourage mass rape. Sounds ridiculous does it not? Every human rights organisation worthy of the title thought it did.
Compounding the issue, Gaddafi’s favoured son, Saif Al-Islam (who, at the time of writing this is still alive), alleged in an interview with Russia Today, that the West offered to get the ICC to drop all charges against him and his family if they walked away from the conflict. Now it is one thing to be able to get a Manhattan prosecutor to drop charges against a petty crack peddler in a bid to get him to cooperate, it is an entirely different thing to coerce the rulers of a nation and potential war criminals to step down in a bid to get charges levied by a supposedly independent court dropped. If this allegation is true, then it demonstrates that the ICC is the mother of all Kangaroo courts.
I hope Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi lives to stand trial. Mainly because if he did indeed commit the crimes of which he is accused, then he should be judged and punished accordingly. But just as importantly, Saif Al-Islam knows where all the bodies are buried (both literally and figuratively). The trial would make uncomfortable viewing for many of the world’s most powerful people, including the very court that could end up trying him.
If Saif spills the beans in court, hopefully the ICC can grab the moment to redeem itself and charge those very powerful people that ‘partied’ with Saif during the good times. And whilst they’re at it, they could also charge the regimes of the following nations: Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Libya’s new regime, Equatorial Guinea, Israel, Uganda, Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan...