Malawi government is opposing the departure of African countries from the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying it will not join the mass withdrawal of African countries who are pulling out from the world body designed to prosecute those who commit the gravest atrocities.
The Hague-based ICC, launched at the turn of the century as an ambitious effort to bring international justice to states around the world, has been buffeted by a series of blows, including rising criticism from African countries that say the ICC is biased against them.
The African Union annual heads of state of summit in Addis Ababa on Tuesday which was attended by Malawian President Peter Mutharika resolved that there should be a co-ordinated withdrawal unless the ICC was reformed.
It included a call for “regionalisation” of international law, a reference to proposals for an African war crimes court.
Sources says AU has a divisive debate with Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Tunisia, Cape Verde, Botswana and Chad want to remain members of the court as they are opposing a withdrawal.
And Malawi’s Solicitor General Janet Chikaya Banda has said the position of the country has not changed as it wants to remain member of ICC.
Banda, who is also Principal Secretarty in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, referred to the statement that her ministry issues that Malawi agitate to press for a reform in ICC.
“We believe for this to be achieved, there is need fro many African countries to remain parties to Rome Statue. It should be appreciated that it’s about numbers, and the fewer the ICC African member states, the more difficult it will be to change things,” reads the statement from the Ministry of Justice.
It continued: “We strongly feel that the inherent challenges in the ICC should be dealt with from within the ICC and not out of it.”
Malawi says it respects sovereign decisions by those countries that opted to pull out from ICC “although it would have loved if they had remained within the organisation.”
The ICC and global justice:
- Came into force in 2002
- The Rome Statute that set it up has been ratified by 123 countries, but the US is a notable absence
- It aims to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes
- In the court’s 14-year history it has only brought charges against Africans.