Africa: To Stop Butchering of Citizens, Africa Should Support Rome Statute


People who perpetrate crimes defined under International Crimes Law must have no place to hide in the modern world. It will remain a painful blight on humanity's conscience that key Nazi criminals lived in comfort and even luxury in Latin America and other places in the world.

Dr Josef Mengele, for instance, who performed gruesome experiments on children at Auschwitz during World War II, lived peacefully without regret in Argentina until his death from natural causes in Brazil in 1979.

Several countries

With the imminent collapse of Rwanda's Juvenal Habyarimana regime, Felicien Kabuga, a key genocide suspect arrested in France on May 16, escaped and received sanctuary in several countries.

Evidence suggests that Moi's Kanu regime gave Kabuga protection and even allowed him to carry out business in Nairobi.

After pressure from the international community to hand him over to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, his stay in Kenya became untenable and he fled to other countries, eventually ending up in France.

The question his arrest raises is how a man, wanted by the international community and with a US price on his head, was able to evade capture for so long.

Part of the answer is that African governments that harboured or aided him were dictatorships which, if not to the scale of genocide, periodically carried out, by proxy or directly, ethnic cleansing or murderous pogroms against groups suspected of disloyalty to the state.

France indicates

But Kabuga's evasion of justice cannot be blamed on African dictatorships alone. Even Western democracies have been complicit.

Instead of arresting him in the 1990s, Switzerland just expelled him from the country.

His arrest in France indicates that he had lived there for a while and brings again to the limelight France's role in the genocide.

Instead of showing regret over its friendly relations with the genocidal regime by doing whatever it could to bring genocide suspects to book, France undertook a diversionary tactic.

It accused the Rwanda Patriotic Front which ended the genocide without support from Africa or the West to have sparked the slaughter by shooting down Habyarimana's plane.

Africa, more than anyone else, should take crimes of genocide very seriously because almost every country--from Kenya to Nigeria to the Central African Republic--has experienced ethnic slaughter or has potential for it.

Instead of accusing the ICC of bias when Sudan's Omar Bashir and Joseph Kony were indicted for crimes against humanity, Africa should have actively sought to present the two men to The Hague to stand trial.

Kabuga's arrest and trial should remind us of that apocalyptic event in Rwanda in 1994 and make us more supportive of the Rome Statute and other international legal instruments meant to end these truly hellish crimes.

The author is a Nairobi-based political commentator.

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