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Is the International Criminal Court unfair to Africa?

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African countries often complain about getting a bad press. They say there’s much more to the continent than war and poverty and starvation. Then there’s the huge coverage given to the International Criminal Court and the fact that all four cases the body is now considering come from Africa.

But what’s strange about the complaints is that the world’s poorest continent is the most heavily represented in the ICC, with 30 member countries. In the March 2009 elections for ICC judges, 12 out of the 19 candidates were Africans nominated by African governments. And Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Deputy Prosecutor, is from Gambia.

Of the four files before the court, the cases on Democractic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic were referred to the court by those very governments. The controversial fourth case, the indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes, was put before the court by the United Nations Security Council.

The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for the leader of the huge oil-exporting country to face charges of war crimes during almost six years of fighting in Sudan’s violent Darfur region — but he has refused to deal with the court.

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