A New Low for the International Criminal Court 85


The ICC really has plumbed new depths in the current trial of ex-Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. I do urge you to read the analysis I wrote at the time of his overthrow. Gbagbo certainly was guilty of crimes, but much more killing and violence was done by current Ivory Coast President, and former Deputy MD of the IMF, Alassane Ouattara. My article was written at the time to counter an extremely misleading one written by Thalia Griffiths, editor of African Energy, and published in the Guardian. I have since discovered more about the role of Trafigura in funding Ouattara’s forces, and the picture becomes ever clearer.

Ouattara killed more than Gbagbo but now sits in the Presidential palace, secure with his French and CIA backers, and confines Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court. That institution shames itself by making itself a simple instrument of victor’s justice, or of prosecuting the side that the major western powers were fighting against. To underline the hypocrisy of this, yesterday Ouattara granted Ivorian citizenship to his ally Blaise Compaore, former President of Burkina Faso, to help him avoid an international arrest warrant for crimes including the murder of his predecessor. Compaore had helped Ouattara fix his election.

Please note, it is very important to avoid the fallacy of “goodies” and “baddies” in African politics. The Ivorien election was extremely unsafe and characterised by cheating on all sides. I am in no sense defending Gbagbo as an innocent.

Yesterday I met with a Western diplomat who told me they are in fact well aware that Campaore’s hand was behind the attacks in Ougadougou a month ago that were blamed on Al Qaida. It would be unfair to say that any Western security service planned or even approved of it. But it benefits their narrative in a number of ways to go along with it. Re-establishing Compaore in Burkina Faso remains a French objective, and the CIA are happy to play ball.

I am in West Africa until Saturday.


85 thoughts on “A New Low for the International Criminal Court

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  • conjunction

    True that, or anyone interested in Africa.

    I also recommend ‘Poisoned Wells’ by Nicholas Shaxson

  • Clark

    Covert foreign policy has to be made illegal under international law.

    This corruption of the International Criminal Court has to be rectified.

    It is very important to avoid the fallacy of “goodies” and “baddies” at all; it distorts all clear thinking, as can often be seen even on these comment threads.

  • Clark

    I’ve just had a call from Craig; since posting the article above he’s been having problems connecting to this, his own site.

  • Martinned

    I am in no sense defending Gbagbo as an innocent.

    Then what is the objection to him standing trial? Or are we working from the assumption that no guilty man should stand trial unless all guilty men stand trial?

  • Clark

    Martinned, I suppose that selective prosecution could be the source of injustice; Craig wrote:

    “Yesterday I met with a Western diplomat who told me they are in fact well aware that Campaore’s hand was behind the attacks in Ougadougou a month ago…”

    But now not be the best time to debate with Craig; it seems that his Internet connection is being disrupted, maybe quite specifically – he can access any other sites, but this specific site is being blocked. I’m very worried for Craig right now.

    Good to see that you’re now linking to your blog.

  • nevermind, Elliot Johnson bullied by Tory peers?

    Look after yourself Craig, with increasing right wing fervour in Europe and elsewhere you are increasingly becoming a thorn in their eyes, a campaigner they might want to get rid of.

  • craig Post author

    Clark,

    Thanks for the concern, but am used to the danger aspect. I seem able to access the site OK now I am going via a VPN.

    Martinned,

    Selective prosecution is a very difficult question. If, for example, the courts in the UK only ever prosecuted black people, that would definitely be a problem, even if those black people prosecuted were actually criminals, if white criminals were ignored.

    The justice system itself would rightly fall into disrepute, irrespective of how good the procedures were in individual cases. The ICC has fallen into disrepute in this kind of way; through obvious and systematic bias in who it chooses to prosecute.

  • Martinned

    @Craig: The black people analogy doesn’t work for me. That would be objectionable because it would be racial discrimination. Generally, any selective prosecution on the basis of – in US equal protection parlance – a suspect classification would be highly problematic.

    That’s not what’s happening here. Assuming your allegations about Ouattara are true (I have no way of knowing either way), this is most likely simply a case of not letting the perfect being the enemy of the good. The ICC has big problems prosecuting sitting heads of state, such as Al-Bashir, so it makes sense that they look at former heads of state instead. That’s the next best thing, and certainly better than small fish like Lubanga.

    Stay safe…

  • fedup

    Craig the network that you are connecting from is behind a firewall that can prohibit connections to various sites etc. However you have circumvented the firewall through the deployment of VPN. Keep up the good work, you are a brave chap to be amidst the scoundrels and still to have the balls to post!

    Agreed on your point that the International Institutions are being gamed and those whom know the system are gaming the system to the max.

    This morning whilst at breakfast, I was listening to RT and a pundit from Woodrow Wilson Foundation was on speaking, and get this a load of this one; “Russia must stop and think about “shia militants” before going onto destroy the Syrian opposition”!!!!

    This is the dog whistle for anyone of the interested parties that US is tolerant of the Wahhabi/ISIS/Deash/ISIL/Al Qaeda doctrinaire but it will not tolerate any militancy of the Shia which basically means US is intent on destroying any modicum of civilised progress in the mid east, as a way of extending its’ reactionary hegemony by promoting those reactionaries regimes as in Saudi et al.

    This explain perfectly well the case you have set out for Gbagbo and ICC, patently Gbagbo is not one of our (US et al) sons of the bitches!!! This however is lamentable that ICC is being used to set an example of him to the rest of sons of bitches intent on doing it their own way, simply put it is yet more militarisation/making punitive/vengefulness of all of the international institutions.

  • craig Post author

    Martinned

    I could reply in two words: Tony Blair.

    But to be more discursive, you have to consider the entire history of who has been prosecuted and who has not been prosecuted. I am an extremely strong advocate of international law and its institutions. That is why I am so disappointed by the decline of the ICC into an instrument of neo-con hegemony.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Martinned,

    “@Craig: The black people analogy doesn’t work for me. That would be objectionable because it would be racial discrimination. Generally, any selective prosecution on the basis of – in US equal protection parlance – a suspect classification would be highly problematic.

    That’s not what’s happening here. Assuming your allegations about Ouattara are true (I have no way of knowing either way), this is most likely simply a case of not letting the perfect being the enemy of the good. The ICC has big problems prosecuting sitting heads of state, such as Al-Bashir, so it makes sense that they look at former heads of state instead. That’s the next best thing, and certainly better than small fish like Lubanga”

    The points, I think, are these:-

    1. Craig’s racial analogy is very much on point. It has been objectively verified in academic studies that there is disparity in sentencing in the US based on racial differences; a lower sentence for the white convict and a higher for the black for the same offence as a systemic and verified fact.

    2. By reference to the manifest unfairness, in the analogy used, thus such discriminatory selectivity is the point I read Craig as conveying about the ICC.

    3. Even if sitting heads of state were prosecuted by the ICC, the manifest selection of former African heads of state for prosecution and the absence of any Western head of state – surely is the point.

  • Martinned

    Courtenay Barnett
    25 Feb, 2016 – 2:00 pm

    1. Sounds right. And we agree that that is bad.
    2.
    3. Only if African heads of state were selected out of (all) proportion to how many crimes were committed in different continents. Given that, for the last few decades, the vast majority of war crimes are committed in Africa, a predominantly African docket is exactly what you’d expect. That is not evidence of racially discriminatory case selection practices.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    The ICC has big problems prosecuting sitting heads of state, such as Al-Bashir, so it makes sense that they look at former heads of state instead. That’s the next best thing, and certainly better than small fish like Lubanga.

    While one out of two is better than none, the system at present is wide open to the charge that it rather depends who your friends are. This is arguable even for smaller fish like Rwanda’s intelligence chief, and former thug, Emmanuel Karake, who was detained by us on a European arrest warrant originating in Spain and citing some specific alleged murders. He was not extradited, but released after a court hearing in which Cherie Blair/Booth continuously advised his Omnia Strategy brief.

    Paul Kagame, Karake’s boss, often boasts his friendship with Tony Blair*, which is reciprocated:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/8885987/Tony-Blair-trips-to-Africa-and-an-intriguing-friendship.html

    Incidentally, questions are at last being asked whether the economic and social utopia claimed by Kagame and by his Western buddies for Rwanda has any existence in fact. It looks as if Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative doesn’t in fact have a lot to do with governance in the country, but more to do with cash flows and investment banking.

    *You started it.

  • Paul Barbara

    Here is a very good article by an extremely intelligent, brave (apart from generally being an extremely potent ‘thorn in the side’ to the PTB, she was on the Mavi Marmara and arrested when it was boarded illegally by Israeli troops and taken to Israel) and honest ex-US Congresswoman (I have had the honour of meeting her) that I’m sure will be of interest to Craig; Craig’s post will also be of interest to Cynthia, so I’m forwarding it to her; it is from 2011, but highly relevant:
    ‘President Obama gets his groove back by attacking Africans’:
    https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/04/477406.html?c=on

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “Given that, for the last few decades, the vast majority of war crimes are committed in Africa, a predominantly African docket is exactly what you’d expect. That is not evidence of racially discriminatory case selection practices.”
    ____________________

    The above, from Martinned, is exactly right and one would only need to add the words “and genocides or attempted genocides” to have the complete picture.

    It is surely good that the ICJ has taken care of a few of these tyrants and war criminals because their deeds tend to be strangely overlooked by ‘liberal’ opinion in the West, which much prefers to go into orgies of anger and condemnation over ‘genocide’ in places like Palestine or Ukraine (which are of course not remotely ‘genocides’).

  • martianed

    “the vast majority of war crimes are committed in Africa”

    martinned often makes interesting points but here he goes off the deep end into CIA-scale delusions. Some kind of patriotic self-hypnosis has enabled him to forget all crimes under the rubric of US/UK aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and Syria. Martinned also either ignorantly or dishonestly fails to consider the ICC’s gravity threshold for crimes of concern to the international community. That lets him tot up a lot of kids whacking each other with choppers and compare it to US use of force in manifest breach of the UN Charter involving inter lots of alia crimes against humanity (systematic and widespread torture), the extermination siege of Fallujah, a plan and policy of indiscriminate probabilistic extrajudicial killing of noncombatants by drone and death squad, and nuclear attack (Baghdad Airport).

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Once again, whether something is a war crime or not depends on who your friends are, doesn’t it?
    […mods: blah deleted]

  • Martinned

    martianed
    25 Feb, 2016 – 3:58 pm

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on much of that, but you did notice that the US – through no fault of the ICC – is not a party to the Rome Statute and therefore usually outside the jurisdiction of the Court? (Not always, but usually, particularly given that a Security Council referral will also not happen, again through no fault of the Court.)

    Moreover, did you notice that the Court does not yet have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression? That can happen, at the earliest, some time next year, that is, after at least 30 states have ratified the amendments (we’re on 26 now) and after the Assembly of States Parties has approved the commencement of jurisdiction after 1 January 2017. (See art. 15bis(3).)

    https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XVIII-10-b&chapter=18&lang=en

  • bevin

    “Given that, for the last few decades, the vast majority of war crimes are committed in Africa, a predominantly African docket is exactly what you’d expect. That is not evidence of racially discriminatory case selection practices.”

    This really is nonsense. Certainly a large number of war crimes have been committed in Africa- South Sudan and Libya are the most recent entries. But the other side of the Red Sea is where the most action is, if not in sheer numbers then in the ease with which the suspects can be identified and the complete absence of any action against them.

    For example, after the case of Iraq which is notorious, there have been Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Gaza. In each case crimes of the sort for which any non-western allied African would be hustled to The Hague have been and are regularly committed without any move to indict.

    Hasbarakkuk’s latest denial of Israel’s clear culpability over Gaza and several other crimes- of which it boasts and on which its leaders campaign in elections- is scandalous.

    If Gaza was not a war crime then what is?

    If the ethnic cleansing of Palestine- the latest move in which is aimed at removing even the token indigenous representation from the ‘Knesset’- is not genocidal then what is?

    The truth is that this line of argument -the denial of colonialist genocides- is indistinguishable from Holocaust denial. Which last has long been a mark of fascist politics, so that it is not surprising to find that, for the likes of Hasbarakkuk, Arab lives don’t matter.

  • glenn_uk

    How do you know there wasn’t some teeer’st evil-doer under all that rubble, Ba’al, which would justify the entire thing?

  • nevermind, Elliot Johnson bullied by Tory peers?

    What are you alluding to, Ba’al, Nicaragua? Oliver North, gun running, coke deals and reliance on some bad bad mercenaries? Panama? the Wars fought by corporations such as united fruit comp.?

    Then there are the usual CIA stuff everywhere else

  • Fwl

    Has there not been a conscious attempt at impartiality in connection with war crime trials in respect of acts during the war what was the former state of Yugoslavia where there was one (US backed) Kosovan defendant for every(Russia backed) Serbian defendant?

    How did that work out in practice?

  • lysias

    The ICC and the ICJ are very different kettles of fish, even if they are both located in The Hague. (The U.S. Defense Department was once kind enough to send me to the beautiful Peace Palace in The Hague, where the ICJ is located,for a conference while I was working in the Pentagon. That is not where the ICC is located.)

  • Exexpat

    Had an interview for the ICC once – didn’t get the job unfortunately. But I knew a junior HR there who weren’t happy with one of the references from one of 2 month contract that didn’t go well for either side.

    Cut a long story short – they would of preferred I covered up rather than honestly explain I worked at such a place for 2 months and it didn’t work out. Even though the rest of my multi decade career is fine. I thought it was better to be honest….

    Go figure.

  • Republicofscotland

    It is surely good that the ICJ has taken care of a few of these tyrants and war criminals because their deeds tend to be strangely overlooked by ‘liberal’ opinion in the West, which much prefers to go into orgies of anger and condemnation over ‘genocide’ in places like Palestine or Ukraine (which are of course not remotely ‘genocides’).

    ________________

    Habb.

    It would be silly not to take into consideration, the influence of powerful Western nations and their influence over the ICJ, when it come to preferences of leaders in African nations, regardless of their crimes.

    Since you mention Palestine, I suppose that is a prime example. Israel has very powerful friends. Therefore their well armed forces can every now and then “mow the lawn” so to speak, without ICJ recriminations.

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