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27May13


International Criminal Court is 'hunting' Africans


Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia's Prime Minister and the AU chair, said the "flawed" ICC system meant that of those indicted, "99 per cent are Africans".

Mr Desalegn was speaking at the conclusion of the 50th anniversary summit of the AU and its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, nicknamed the "Dictators' Club", after some of its less savoury members.

He lambasted the "chasing" of Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya's recently-elected president, who is due to stand trial in July on charges of crimes against humanity over accusations that they fuelled election violence in 2007. His deputy William Ruto faces similar charges - both men deny them.

Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has also been charged with genocide over the conflict in Darfur - a charge he denies.

"African leaders have come to a consensus that the (ICC) process that has been conducted in Africa has a flaw," Mr Desalegn said. "The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity ... but now the process has degenerated to some kind of race hunting."

A spokesman for the ICC denied the charge it was racist and said it would "not be reacting" to the claim.

The AU has previously accused the ICC of selective punishment. Jean Ping, the AU's chairman, said that under the previous chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, it was handing out "Ocampo's justice".

Now, despite lobbying for Mr Ocampo's successor Fatou Bensoud, a 50-year-old Gambian woman, the AU's opinion of the body appears not to have improved.

The ICC has also been criticised for the speed of its trials. Last year, Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese warlord was sentenced to 14 years in jail for using child soldiers in his rebel army. It was the court's first sentence, 10 years and 750 million after it opened.

During the summit, the AU also announced the establishment of a 35,000-strong emergency military force to avoid Western intervention in future conflicts on the continent seen this year in Mali and last year in Ivory Coast.

[Source: The Telegraph, London, 27May13]

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