John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Showing posts for "ICC"

African Chiefs of State and the Law

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015. Obama toured a U.S.-supported food factory in Ethiopia on Tuesday on the last leg of an Africa trip, before winding up his visit at the African Union where he will become the first U.S. president to address the 54-nation body. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015. Obama toured a U.S.-supported food factory in Ethiopia on Tuesday on the last leg of an Africa trip, before winding up his visit at the African Union where he will become the first U.S. president to address the 54-nation body. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

In his rightfully celebrated speech at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa on July 28, President Barack Obama proclaimed, “no one person is above the law, not even the president.” This is a fundamental principle of American law, based on centuries of English precedent, but it is by no means universally accepted. Read more »

South African Democracy and the International Criminal Court

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

For this outsider, the parliamentary and judicial response to the Zuma administration’s failure to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and turn him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) provides a window in to the state of South African democracy. To me, it is clear that the Zuma government broke both South African and international law by not only failing to hold al-Bashir, though specifically ordered to do so by the South African judiciary, but also facilitated his clandestine departure. South African law is relevant because the South African government at the time incorporated the ICC treaty into its own legal system. Read more »

South African Rule of Law Threatened

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

From the perspective of the expectations of Nelson Mandela, South Africa has been treading water, if not worse, especially since the national elections of 2014. Economic growth remains an anemic 2 percent or less, thereby challenging Mandela’s assumption that poverty could be eliminated rapidly. Public concerns about corruption remain unaddressed. Parliament appears increasingly dysfunctional. Its procedures are under assault by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters and stonewalling tactics by the Zuma government over corruption. Read more »

Al-Bashir and the Rule of Law in South Africa

by John Campbell
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir greets his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (L) at the Palace in Khartoum February 1 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir greets his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (L) at the Palace in Khartoum February 1 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

The media’s take on the failure of South Africa’s Zuma government to hold Sudanese President al-Bashir is that it is a slap in the face of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The press drama is focused on al-Bashir and the credible charges of genocide that he faces before the ICC, and the many African objections to the way the court operates. Read more »

Amnesty International Calls for International Criminal Court Prosecution of Nigerian Military

by John Campbell
A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters) A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)

In a long expected report, Amnesty International has claimed that the Nigerian security services have detained 20,000 men and boys since 2009 and that 7,000 of those detainees died in detention under inhumane circumstances. Amnesty also reports that 17,000 people were killed in northeast Nigeria in the same time frame, meaning that 41 percent of deaths occurred under Nigerian custody. Read more »

Coming Clean: Was Justice Served in the Ivory Coast Trial of Simone Gbagbo?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone Ehivet Gbagbo attend a memorial ceremony at Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan April 1, 2009. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters) Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone Ehivet Gbagbo attend a memorial ceremony at Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan April 1, 2009. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Ivorian politics are colorful. Yet it may still surprise some that a court in the Ivory Coast sentenced former First Lady Simone Gbagbo to twenty years in prison for her role in the 2011 post-election violence even though prosecutors only requested ten years. The court convicted her of undermining state security, while the prosecution only charged her for disturbing public order. Read more »

Nigerian First Lady on the Campaign Trail

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience arrive for a dinner with the French President and other dignitaries as part of the Summit for Peace and Security in Africa at the Elysee Palace in Paris, December 6, 2013. (Benoit Tessier/Courtesy Reuters) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience arrive for a dinner with the French President and other dignitaries as part of the Summit for Peace and Security in Africa at the Elysee Palace in Paris, December 6, 2013. (Benoit Tessier/Courtesy Reuters)

First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan has a big personality and is a powerful political figure. She holds multiple Nigerian university degrees. She has been the permanent secretary in the Bayelsa state government, usually the most senior civil service position. She was appointed by the governor who is a political ally of her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan. She has consistently advocated on behalf of more women in national life. She also acquired brief notoriety in the United States when she initially described the Chibok kidnapping as a fraud designed to embarrass her husband. Read more »

To Catch a Victim and a Perpetrator: The ICC and Dominic Ongwen

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Dominic Ongwen, a commander of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), waits for the start of court procedures as he makes his first appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Peter Dejong/Pool) Dominic Ongwen, a commander of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), waits for the start of court procedures as he makes his first appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Peter Dejong/Pool)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

They’ve got him, but can they get him? That’s the question before the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it finally confronts Dominic Ongwen, the number two commander in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The Court has been after him for a decade, almost as long as it has been in existence. Read more »

Delaying President Kenyatta’s Justice

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta smiles as he appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague October 8, 2014. (Peter Dejong/Pool/Courtesy Reuters) Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta smiles as he appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague October 8, 2014. (Peter Dejong/Pool/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Last week, two “firsts” occurred in Africa: Read more »

Immunity for African Leaders?

by John Campbell
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013. (Tiksa Negeri/Courtesy Reuters) Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013. (Tiksa Negeri/Courtesy Reuters)

African elites generally do not like the International Criminal Court (ICC) that sits in the Hague. There is a widespread view that the ICC engages in selective prosecution and holds African leaders to a higher standard than others.

Africans ask why the ICC prosecutes Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, but not former vice president Dick Cheney or former prime minister Tony Blair for Iraq-related issues, for example. There have been calls for immunity for African heads of state that are wanted for international crimes. The ICC cases against President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have particularly focused the debate, and Kenya may withdraw from the Treaty of Rome, which established the ICC. Read more »