Monday, August 07, 2006

Whither the ICC? is reporting, through The New Times out of Kigali, Rwanda, that the International Criminal Court has agreed not to prosecute the leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army, including Joseph Kony and his top commanders, so that peace negotiations between the Ugandan government and the LRA can proceed. [Please see my old post for some background on this issue, including links to information on the LRA.]

However, there's a catch:

"The ICC is willing to lift the indictments. They (the ICC) are willing to go with (watching) us through the peace talks provided the final agreement does not condone impunity," [Joseph] Kagoda [the Ugandan Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs] said while appearing before the parliamentary committee on Defence and Internal Affairs.
This makes no sense. Either the ICC should stick to its guns and insist on the arrest and prosecution of Kony and his thugs, or it should step back and allow Uganda to decide for itself what kind of peace settlement best meets its own needs. Granting immunity can be necessary and critical part of transitioning from civil war to peace, as countries like South Africa have learned, and presumably the murders of the LRA won't be so willing to end their fight if they know that they'll be put on trial. The ICC should put its indictments in abeyance pending a peace settlement that is agreed upon by the Ugandan government regardless of whether or not Kony and his cronies eventually face justice. It may be a true injustice if Kony and his band of child raping, limb-amputating murders is allowed to go free, but if that is the price of a comprehensive peace settlement, it must be Uganda's decision whether to pay it.

As an interesting side note, Kagoda continued with some comments that exposed the fecklessness and weakness of the ICC:

But Kagoda said: "We approached an international peace keeping force to arrest Kony and his commanders but they said it was not their concern and did not have the mandate. We had no partner to effect the arrests and yet Uganda was not authorized to go to DR Congo. That is why we decided to opt for peace talks with the LRA."
The ICC lacks any capacity to enforce its own indictments and warrants, depending on its member states to do the work for the Court. And yet, when a member state asks the ICC to back down so that it might find its own solution to a brutal civil war, the ICC puffs up its chest, declares its own importance, and barely ends up doing the right thing. This is why international justice is so far away from being realized. Only when (and a BIG) if the judicial power is backed up by independent enforcement power will the system of international justice approach anything close to a meaningful concept.

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