Europhrenia – One law for Europe, another for Africa

June 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

Africa Research Centre has just published a study by Dr David Hoile on the International Criminal Court. Coinciding with the ICC’s first ever review conference in Kampala, Uganda, its title, The International Criminal Court: Europe’s Guantánamo Bay? somewhat betrays the mood.

“While the ICC presents itself as an international court this is quite simply not the case,” the abstract runs. “Its members represent just over one quarter of the world’s population: China, Russia, the United States, India, Pakistan and Indonesia are just some of the many countries that have remained outside of the Court’s jurisdiction.”

The European Union provides the ICC over 60 percent of its funding. The study argues that with its independence compromised, the selection of judges, “some of whom have never been lawyers, let alone judges” is the outcome of horse-trading among member states. Plus “ICC’s own statute grants special “prosecutorial” rights of referral and deferral to the UN Security Council, or more specifically its five permanent members.”
Could this lead to some discrepancies?

The ICC has ignored all European or Western human rights abuses in conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq or human rights abuses by Western client states… Despite over 8,000 complaints about alleged crimes in at least 139 countries, the ICC has started investigations into just five countries, all of them African.” The report also accuses the EU of “economic blackmail in tying aid for developing countries to ICC membership.”

Hoile has been accused of acting as a propagandist for the Islamist Sudanese government. He was formerly a researcher for Conservative MP Andrew Hunter, described by the Guardian as a “hard-rightest”. Admitted, it’s in Khartoum’s interests not to be arraigned before the ICC for crimes in Darfur, but however unusual Hoile’s pedigree, he seems to have raised pertinent questions about European double-standards. As the undisputed kings of bodycount, our claim to teach the rest of the world lessons in justice is somewhat shaky.

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Europhrenia – Leave Naomi Campbell alone

May 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

The BBC reports that Naomi Campbell might be subpoenaed to testify at the trial of Liberia’s ex-President Charles Taylor. Let’s remember that Mr Taylor, among other things, is accused of selling diamonds and buying weapons for Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front rebels, who, among other things, used to hack off people’s hands and legs during the 1991-2001 civil war. He was also quite a nasty piece of work in his home country too.

Did the supermodel between turns on the catwalk fly down to West Africa to get stuck into a spot of war crime? Apparently not. Prosecutors at The Hague say she was given rough diamonds by Taylor back in 1997 at Nelson Mandela’s house in South Africa. Says the prosecution motion filed with Special Court for Sierra Leone “Ms Campbell’s testimony is necessary as there is evidence that Ms Campbell was given rough diamonds by the accused (Taylor) in September 1997.”

It’s hard to know where to begin here. But firstly, let’s take a look at the notion of international war crimes tribunals. Trials are being held for Sierra Leone, and also for the ex-Yugoslavia, that is to say, for, failed, weak, easily overrun-able states. On the other hand, crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the British, American, French, German armies do not fall into the same category. Attempts to have Tony Blair prosecuted as a “war-criminal” enjoyed a vogue a couple of months back, but from those who consider Blair guilty of murder in Iraq, we have heard little about Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan. This is apparently because the West’s involvement there is a just cause. As long as we feel morally superior, the mission to civilise Afghan civilians with bombs and drone missiles might lead to hand-wringing but little else.

Aside from the obvious publicity an eventual subpoena on Ms Campbell might generate, you’ve got to wonder why her evidence is “necessary”. No questions have been raised, as far as I can see, as to why Nelson Mandela would have been dining with Taylor, or for that matter what insights Naomi Campbell could have brought to such an unusual repast. The only thing obvious here is that complex, dirty wars are now being reduced to the problem of the individual consumer. There is a weird hint here that Ms Campbell is complicit in a horrific war for having been the beneficiary of a product that funded it. In which case, in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to declare my complicity in the Iraq war. I am completely addicted to HobNob biscuits from England. I buy at least two or three packets of the things a week. Almost every day, my shirt is covered in crumbs of guilt. After all, part of Hobnobs’ revenues must have gone in taxes to the UK’s 32.6 billion pound defence budget. Subpoena Blood HobNobs eaters now.

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