White men are capable of abusing their power as well.
That was a small point that Courtenay Griffiths, Charles Taylor’s lawyer, briefly hinted at this past Monday, the first day of Taylor’s defense, which is taking place at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
In the particular case of Charles Taylor, Griffiths’ subtle stab may be moot; to be clear, the ICC did not make any of its own inquiries into Charles Taylor’s case and he is only at The Hague for logistical reasons so as not to cause a stir in Freetown by being tried at the Special Court in Freetown.
But this does bring up an interesting point that has riled many Africans.
The ICC has investigated four African regions so far: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and most recently, Darfur, Sudan, specifically issuing an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Many Africans have criticized the International Criminal Court for seeming to target African leaders. As Griffiths pointed out, the world’s corrupt leaders are not solely in Africa, yet during the ICC’s history, Africa has been their target for investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity.
When asked about the charges against al-Bashir, a Sudanese acquaintance I recently met said that, while he and his countrymen were unhappy with the violence happening in Sudan, they did not want interference coming from the outside.
I am not foolish enough to believe that one Sudanese man’s opinion represents the viewpoint of all of Sudan, especially those who suffer in Darfur.
Nor am I foolish enough to believe that the ICC has a political agenda against Africa because so many nations in this huge continent are considered politically and economically weak.
But I do wonder why countries with similar bloody histories – Cambodia, Bosnia, Iraq – have not been investigated with the same efforts as the previously mentioned African nations were.
ICC President Sang Hyun-Song went to Africa in early June to quell the anger of Africans who accused the ICC of having an anti-African agenda.
“If our work is to contribute to reconciliation, affected communities must see justice being done,” he said to the news Website, Voice of America.
I agree with Hyun-Song and I disagree with my Sudanese acquaintance – justice needs to be done, even if it is from an outside entity. How long can one stand aside while clear and obvious genocide occurs before you step in and do something about it?
However, while I fully support the ICC’s goals, I hope they can look beyond Africa and investigate the violations that occur in other parts of the world. As Griffiths said, the abuse of power is not limited solely limited to black Africans.