Can the International Criminal Court Deliver Impartial Justice? Margaret Kimberley on Al Jazeera's Inside Story
Originally broadcast on Al Jazeera's Inside Story
On July 1, 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the only permanent criminal tribunal set up to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, came into force.A decade later, it has been ratified by 121 states with another 32 intending to join. The US and China, however, have opted not to. In its 10 years, the ICC has only made one conviction - Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese warlord found guilty of recruiting child soldiers.
Critics say the ICC has made slow progress, with much, if not all of its focus on Africa.
Apart from the case involving Lubanga, which took six years to reach a conviction, the court has issued arrest warrants for 20 individuals, notably Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's son; Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president; and Joseph Kony.
"The big fish - the United States and the NATO nations - are free to violate the international law, to violate human rights with complete impunity. Since the ICC was founded, the United States invaded Iraq .... Israel attacked Gaza, targetted a civilian population ... so it seems these rules apply only to weak nations."
- Kimberley Margaret, editor of the website Black Agenda Report
There are currently five people in custody:
So far the office of the prosecutor has failed to pursue any investigations outside Africa. This criticism was put to Fatou Bensouda, the new ICC chief prosecutor, but she denied any bias against Africa.
"We are not in Africa by choice. We did not go to Africa to try cases because that's what we wanted to do. I have said and I continue to repeat that Africa is taking leadership in international criminal justice. And this has to be realised, and this has to be adjusted to," said Bensouda.
"I can cite the cases that we have in Africa and how we got there. All of the cases in fact accept the Kenya case are invitiations by the African states for ICC intervention," she added.
Inside Story asks: Can the ICC deliver impartial justice? And with only one suspect convicted so far, has the the Court fulfilled its basic mission?
To answer this question, presenter Ghida Fakhry, is joined by guests: Mark Kersten, a researcher at London School of Economics and specialist on the international criminal justice system, the ICC and conflict resolution; Kimberley Margaret, a senior columnist and editor for the website Black Agenda Report; and Hassan Omar Hassan from the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission.