“Uhuru Kenyatta Is Seeking A Licence To Kill More” Says Desmond Tutu


MEMBERS of the African Union will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today to discuss recent calls by some African leaders to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. These calls must be resisted. The continent has suffered the consequences of unaccountable governance for too long to disown the protections offered by the I.C.C
Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence. They believe the interests of the people should not stand in the way of their ambitions of wealth and power; that being held to account by the I.C.C. interferes with their ability to achieve these ambitions; and that those who get in their way — the victims: their own people — should remain faceless and voiceless.
Most of all, they believe that neither the golden rule, nor the rule of law, applies to them.
But they know that they cannot say these things in public without repercussions. Instead, they conveniently accuse the I.C.C. of racism.
Leaving the I.C.C. would be a tragedy for Africa, as leaders like the former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, of Ghana, have noted. Without its deterrence, countries could and would attack their neighbors, or minorities in their own countries, with impunity. When Lubanga was arrested to face charges of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers, the threat of the I.C.C. undermined his support from other militias. After the Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo was taken to face justice in The Hague, the country was able to rebuild.
Without this court, there would be no brake on the worst excesses of these criminals. And these violent leaders continue to plague Africa: the Great Lakes, Mali, northern Nigeria and Egypt all give reason for concern. Perpetrators of violence must not be allowed to wriggle free.
Moreover, where justice and order are not restored, there can be no healing, leaving violence and hatred ticking like a bomb in the corner. We know too well that long, painful road to healing in South Africa, as do the people of Kenya. As Africa begins to find its voice in world affairs, it must strengthen its commitment to the rule of law, not undermine it. These principles are part of our global moral and legal responsibility, not items from a menu we can choose only when it suits us.
Along with thousands of others, I have joined a campaign by Avaaz, an international advocacy group, calling on Africa’s leaders to stay in the I.C.C. The alternatives are too painful: revenge, like what happened in Rwanda, Kosovo and Bosnia, or blanket amnesty and a national commitment to amnesia, like what happened in Chile. The only way any country can deal with its past is to confront it.
We need loud voices in Addis Ababa to deliver this message, to shout down those who want us to do nothing. We also need the continent’s heavyweights, Nigeria and South Africa, to exercise leadership and stop those who don’t like the rules from attempting to rewrite them. Far from a fight between Africa and the West, this is a fight within Africa, for its soul.
Desmond Tutu, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his contribution to opposing apartheid.

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8 thoughts on ““Uhuru Kenyatta Is Seeking A Licence To Kill More” Says Desmond Tutu

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