Senegal’s Law Students Debate the International Criminal Court

ICC Judge

Fatou Bensouda, an International Criminal Court prosecutor

In 1998 the Rome Statute, a treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), was ratified by many countries throughout the world. The first country to ratify this treaty was in fact Senegal, giving “the court the power to prosecute individuals for international crimes such as genocide.” Today however we see that the world, particularly the African continent, is directing a lot of criticism towards the ICC. The critics are claiming that the ICC only pursues cases against African leaders. There are many who believe that the ICC is merely a mechanism to target African leaders and contribute to fostering a negative view towards the continent of Africa.

Against this background, around 60 Senegalese law students have teamed up with various activists to discuss the faults of the ICC. Surprisingly, the result of the discussions has been that the criticism is unfounded. While all of the cases since the ICC was established have been targeted towards African leaders, this is because most of the genocides and war crimes were in fact committed in the African countries. This should not call people to criticize the ICC, instead it should make people strive to achieve democracy and stable institutions to ensure that there is never a need for African leaders to go to court in Netherlands. The students also concluded that if there is a disdain towards the ICC’s activities in regards to Africa, there should be a larger population of Africans who become more involved in the court as lawyers and judges so that they can change the focus of the court. Keeping all of this in mind, it is still prevalent in many African’s mindset to question the credibility of the ICC on account of the lack of support from the United States and Israel. However, this debate and discussion can contribute to further improving the position of the International Criminal Court and subsequently, providing justice.



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