Against Humanity Zimbabwe (CAHZ) - International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court in the Italian capital, Rome, on
17 July, 1998, 120 countries agreed on a statute to create the International
Criminal Court or ICC, based in the Hague. There were 21 abstentions
and, worryingly, seven governments voted against the idea, including
the USA, China, Israel and India. But the real numbers were with the
Court which was soon set up and doing business.
The idea of such a body was first proposed in 1937, and again after
Nazi leaders were tried at Nüremberg and Japanese war criminals
in Tokyo. At the Rome meeting, Canada, Germany and the UK had wanted
an ICC with wide powers to prosecute anyone, anywhere, if there was
evidence of genocide or crimes against humanity.
But, the US, China and India won a concession that only governments
which ratified their membership of the Court could be investigated
by the ICC. This is a serious flaw because people like Mugabe and his
cohorts are unlikely to sign the deal.
However, human rights law has progressed so rapidly over the past 20
years that many other options exist for prosecution. What was most
valuable in the ICC, was a court that could list agreed definitions
of criminal acts, and establish precedents that might be applied to
other courts in local jurisdiction.
In addition, there have been tribunals (not run by the ICC) for crimes
committed in Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia. It was
the latter that first recognised rape as a crime against humanity when
used as a political weapon (we have ample evidence of this in Zimbabwe,
mostly from the Youth Brigade training camps.) One must also remember
that the arrest of former Chilean president, General Augusto Pinochet
in London in 1998, Charles Taylor in Liberia and the reading of charges
against Hissene Habre of Chad had nothing to do with the ICC.
Given those precedents, Robert Mugabe is no longer safe from prosecution.