Some lawyers in Lagos on Tuesday, described as double standard the operation of the International Criminal Court(ICC), in its selective prosecution of alleged war crimes, genocide and other human rights abuse.
Reacting to the ordered arrest of wanted Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, during the recently concluded Africa Union Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, the lawyers said the same rule of justice should apply to all.
South Africa’s ruling ANC said in a statement on Sunday, that the ICC was “no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended”.
The ANC spoke after al-Bashir, wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes in the Darfur conflict arrived South Africa to attend the African Union summit, held from June 7 to June 15.
Bashir, however, returned to Sudan before the enforcement of a South Africa court that ordered his arrest.
Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, the Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a civil society organisation, said all nations should be subjected to the same kind of justice if human rights are violated.
“I agree to an extent with the ANC, citizens in the western nations like the United States of America should also be subjected to the ICC.
“We have seen instances where American soldiers violated human rights laws in Iraq and Afghanistan and have not been brought to trial before the ICC.
“As someone with a passion for human rights, I feel that there should be no selective justice.”
Also, Mr Yinka Farounbi, the Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja branch, supported the position of the ANC.
“I am in total agreement with the ANC on this subject, the ICC has over the years been accused of witch hunting leaders of developing countries, particularly African countries.
“Western countries feel that they are above the law and we have seen a lot of instances where the USA and its allies openly flout international law without any repercussions.
“America committed a number of war crimes in Guatanamo Bay and none of its citizens have been brought to book for such human rights violations.
“The USA has refused to sign treaties and be part of any form of international law to avoid their citizens facing justice if they disregard the rules.
“Israel has also committed a lot of war crimes against the people of Lebanon and Israel and we are yet to see a leader of Israel before the ICC.
“Justice should apply to every nation regardless of wealth or race and should not be selective.”
Similarly, Mr Onyekachi Ubani, the immediate past chairman of the Ikeja branch of the NBA, accused the ICC of discrimination in handling human rights violation cases.
“It is appalling and unacceptable that the ICC focuses on third world countries particularly African nations in prosecuting leaders for offences like corruption and crimes against humanity.
“Countries like the USA and China have violated international laws and were not invited to appear before the ICC.
“I feel it is very wrong for the ICC to order South Africa to arrest and extradite an African leader attending a conference on their soil.
“It is selective justice, what is good for the goose should also be good for the gander.”
Mr Ademola Adewale, a lawyer and public affairs analyst, said, the ICC has focused more on the third world countries, especially African leaders, citing the example of Charles Taylor.
“America, however, has refused to sign any treaty that will subject their citizens to international justice and we, citizens of third world countries, see this as double standard. ICC currently seems partisan and eager to punish rulers of third world countries.
“Every nation is sovereign and the ICC should respect the sovereignty of African countries.”