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Look down the list of the cases the International Criminal Court is pursuing – Congo, Central African Republic, Darfur, Uganda – and it doesn’t take long to spot the connection.
Of the dozen arrest warrants the court has issued, all have been against African rebels or officials. On Monday, the court begins its first trial - of Thomas Lubanga, accused of recruiting child soldiers to wage a gruesome ethnic war in northeastern Congo. Earlier this month, former Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was in court for a decision on whether to confirm charges of ordering mass rape to terrorise civilians in the Central African Republic.
The judges are also deciding whether to indict their first head of state, Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accused by the court’s prosecutor of instigating genocide and other war crimes in Darfur. All those being pursued by the prosecutor reject the accusations against them.
There is no doubt there were atrocities in all the conflicts in question – families, villages and countries scarred for ever by murders, rapes, mutilations, kidnappings and burnings.