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Ethiopia: African Dictators: Can’t Run, Can’t Hide!

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01/30/12

  12:52:28 am, by admin, 2059 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Alemayehu G. Mariam

Ethiopia: African Dictators: Can’t Run, Can’t Hide!

African Dictators: Can’t Run, Can’t Hide!

By Alemayehu G. Mariam


The International Criminal Court (ICC) is on the chase; and over the past few months, things have taken a slow turn for the worse for African dictators and human rights violators. They are finding out that they can’t run and they can’t hide.

Laurent “Cling-to-power-at-any-cost” Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire was snatched from his palatial hiding place in April 2011 after he defiantly refused to give up power to Alassane Ouattara in a presidential election certified by international observers in December 2010. In late November 2011, Gbagbo was quietly whisked away to the Hague from house arrest in Korhogo in the north of the country to face justice before the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity (murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts) that were allegedly committed during the post-election period. The U.N. estimates well over three thousand people died between December 2010 and April 2011as a result of extrajudicial killings by supporters of Gbagbo and Ouattara. Gbagbo is the second former head of state to be tried by the ICC since it was set up in 2002.

Last week, a High Court judge in Kenya ordered Kenyan officials to arrest and deliver Sudan’s president Omar Al-Bashir to the ICC to face charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide if he ever set foot again in Kenya. The U.N. estimates well over 300,000 people have perished under Bashir’s regime. Bashir unsuccessfully claimed immunity from prosecution as a sitting head of state. Nearly all of the other unindicted African dictators have chimed in to severely criticize the ICC and demand suspension of Bashir’s arrest warrant. Five other suspects are also sought on ICC warrants in the Sudan including Ahmed Haroun, a lawyer and minister of humanitarian affairs, Ali Kushayb, a former senior Janjaweed (local militiamen allied with the Sudanese regime against Darfur rebels), Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, a rebel leader and two others.

In another development in Kenya last week, Uhuru Kenyatta, finance minister and son of Kenya’s famed independence leader Jomo Kenyatta, resigned following an ICC ruling that he will face trial for crimes against humanity in connection with the communal post-election violence between supporters of presidential candidates Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki in 2008. The U.N. estimates some 1,200 people died in weeks of unrest between December 2007 and February 2008 and 600,000 people were forcibly displaced. Cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura, a close ally of president Mwai Kibaki, former Education Minister William Ruto and radio announcer Joshua arap Sang face similar charges.
The ICC had also issued arrest warrants for Moammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity. Last week, Libya’s Justice Minster announced that Libya, and not the ICC, will be trying Saif al-Islam. Al-Senoussi remains a fugitive from justice.

Last but not forgotten is former Liberian president Charles Taylor who went on trial on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in The Hague before the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He is awaiting a verdict after a nearly three and half year trial.

The ICC presently has open investigations against individuals in various countries including Uganda, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Darfur and Cote d’Ivoire. The rogue’s gallery of suspects sought in ICC issued arrest warrants for crimes against humanity and war crimes include five senior leaders of the “Lord’s Resistance Army” in Uganda including the notorious Joseph Kony and his deputy Vincent Otti and three other top commanders. In the DR Congo various rebel and militia leaders and Congolese military officers and politicians including Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Bosco Ntaganda, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and two others are targets of ICC investigation.

No ICC, No Justice?

The ICC, established in 2002, is an institution with a lot of legal and political limitations in its investigative and prosecutorial duties. For instance, it has authority over “crimes against humanity” only if the acts were “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.” The crimes must have been “extensively or rationally orchestrated” by the perpetrators. The ICC can investigate cases only where the accused is a national of a state party that has accepted ICC jurisdiction and the alleged crime took place on the territory of a state party, or if a “situation” is referred by the Security council. Most importantly, it can exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.

The ICC has a very difficult job to do in investigating and chasing the world’s worst human rights violations across the planet. Despite its recent establishment, obstacles and limitations, it has a respectable record. As of September 2010, the Office of the ICC Prosecutor had received 8,874 “communications” about alleged human rights violations. After an initial review, it declined to proceed with 4,002 of them concluding that they are “manifestly outside the jurisdiction of the Court”. To date, the Court has opened investigations in seven African countries. Three investigations began following referral by state parties, the UN Security Council referred two more (Darfur and Libya) and two were begun proprio motu (“ICC prosecutor began on his own initiative”). To date, the ICC has charged 27 people and issued arrest warrants for 18 more. Five individuals are in various stages of trial and eight remain at large as fugitives. Two individuals died before their trials concluded and charges were dismissed against four.

The one unsettled question is what happens to those individuals who commit crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in official or unofficial capacity but cannot be prosecuted because they are not part of the regime of the Rome Statute which established the ICC. For instance, Ethiopia has not ratified or accepted the Rome Statute and technically does not come under ICC jurisdiction. Does that mean the individuals who perpetrated crimes against humanity and war crimes in that country will never be held accountable under any international system of criminal justice?

The evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ethiopia is fully documented, substantial and overwhelming. An official Inquiry Commission report in 2006 documented the extrajudicial killing of at least 193 persons, wounding of 763 others and arbitrary imprisonment of nearly 30,000 persons in the post-2005 election period in that country. There are at least 237 individuals identified and implicated in these crimes. In December 2003, in Gambella, Ethiopia, 424 individuals died in extrajudicial killings by security forces. In the Ogaden, reprisal “executions of 150 individuals” and 37 others were documented by Human Rights Watch in 2008 which charged:
Ethiopian military personnel who ordered or participated in attacks on civilians should be held responsible for war crimes. Senior military and civilian officials who knew or should have known of such crimes but took no action may be criminally liable as a matter of command responsibility. The widespread and apparently systematic nature of the attacks on villages throughout Somali Region is strong evidence that the killings, torture, rape, and forced displacement are also crimes against humanity for which the Ethiopian government bears ultimate responsibility.

In 2010, Human Rights Watch made a submission to the U.N. Committee Against Torture “regarding serious patterns of torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in Ethiopia.”
Torture and ill-treatment have been used by Ethiopia's police, military, and other members of the security forces to punish a spectrum of perceived dissenters, including university students, members of the political opposition, and alleged supporters of insurgent groups, as well as alleged terrorist suspects. Human Rights Watch has documented incidents of torture and ill-treatment by Ethiopian security forces in a range of settings. The frequency, ubiquity, and patterns of abuse by agents of the central and state governments demonstrate systematic mistreatment involving commanding officers, not random activity by rogue soldiers and police officers. In several cases documented by Human Rights Watch, military commanders participated personally in torture.

Universal Jurisdiction

The are obvious limits to the globalization of criminal justice under the ICC regime. But does that mean human rights violators who are not subject to ICC jurisdiction get away with murder, torture, war crimes and genocide? Maybe not.

There is an encouraging trend globally that more and more national courts are willing to operate under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction to prosecute gross human rights violators for atrocities committed outside their countries. Simply stated, if someone who committed crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide is found in another country where the crimes were not committed, that country makes it its obligation to bring the perpetrator to justice using its own courts. For instance, Article 5 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment provides that each State shall “take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over such offences in cases where the alleged offender is present in any territory under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite him.”

Universal jurisdiction has been exercised in a number of high profile cases. A Spanish judge charged former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet in 1998 for crimes against humanity committed in Chile. After years of appeal and delays, Pinochet died in 2006 without facing justice. A Belgian court in 2001 convicted the killers of two Rwandan nuns for war crimes during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. A Belgian court in 2005 indicted the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, for crimes against humanity, torture, war crimes and other human rights violations committed during his presidency in Chad. Two weeks ago, a Senegalese court blocked the extradition of the Chadian dictator because Belgium failed to file the “original arrest warrant and other papers”. A German court has convicted a former leader of a paramilitary Serb group for acts of genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1997. Over the past several decades, more than 15 countries have exercised universal jurisdiction in investigations or prosecutions of persons suspected of crimes under international law including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK and the United States of America.

There are other non-criminal legal remedies as well. For instance, the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU) in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) National Security Investigations Division conducts investigations to prevent foreign war crimes suspects, persecutors and human rights abusers from entering the United States. It also identifies, prosecutes and deports such offenders who have entered the U.S. Over the past 8 years, ICE has arrested more than 200 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes and deported more than 400 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Currently, ICE is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from nearly 95 different countries. HRVWCU receives anonymous tips and information from those who report suspected war criminals and human rights violators residing in the U.S. Individuals seeking to report suspected human rights violators may contact the HRV unit at HRV.ICE@DHS.GOV

Justice Delayed is Not Justice Denied, Just Delayed

Justice delayed is just delayed. The victims of former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet might have thought justice delayed is justice denied. So may have thought the victims of Argentina’s Dirty War. The facts are very encouraging. Since December 2006, Chilean prosecutors and judges have convicted hundreds of former military personnel in the Pinochet regime accused of committing grave human rights violations. As of July 2008, 482 former military personnel and civilian collaborators were facing charges for a variety of offenses classified under crimes against humanity. Among these, 256 had been convicted, of whom 83 had had their convictions confirmed on appeal. In the Argentine Dirty War (the generals’ war against thousands of activists, militants, trade unionists, students, journalists and others), the mighty generals have been held to account. Many of the top military officers involved including Leopoldo Galtieri, general and President of Argentina, Jorge Rafael Videla, former senior Army commander and de facto President and other lesser known top officers were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment or long prison terms. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s dictator for over three decades, his sons, interior minsiter and others are today facing justice in an Egyptian court. Syria’s Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Ali Saleh of Yemen will no doubt face justice in Syria, Yemen or elsewhere. Justice will also arrive like a slow, chugging and delayed train for those who have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ethiopia.

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/

19 comments

Comment from: Adamu [Visitor]
Adamu

This is good article and we must support International Criminal Court (ICC) initiative to arrest the all criminals in the Horn of Africa (HoA), including Shekh Sharif, Meles and Abdi-Iley We know that, Ethiopia didn’t accept the Rome Statute and also ICC regulations. But, this does that mean that, senior military and government officials from Tigray and Amara (Amhra) who perpetrated crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Ogaden, Gambella and Oromia will not be held accountable under any international system of criminal justice.

There are at least 1,300 government officials and individuals (security and militia members) who were identified as criminals in Ethiopia. in Gambella, 2000 individuals died in extrajudicial killings by military and security forces. In the Ogaden, all community was displaced and many people were killed by the government army and militias. Oromia is same with these regions. However, the ICC should arrest these criminals from Amara (Amhara) and Tigray, and also Daud Diriye Ahmar (Daud Mohamed Ali) and Abdi-Iley from Ogaden, and Akolo from Gambela.

01/30/12 @ 02:57
Comment from: Ras Mitat [Visitor]
Ras Mitat

ICC IS A JOKE, only conerned with Black African leaders…

Arrest GEORGE W. BUSH first, 100,000 killed in Iraq with no U.N. mandate.

01/30/12 @ 03:26
Comment from: ment4you [Visitor]
ment4you

As always the end of a dictator is a violent one. Meles is simply waiting for his time to come shortly.

01/30/12 @ 03:46
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]
TEDDY

Soon or Later the Crime Minister with his Agazis and bandas shall face his own fate in front JUSTICE !!Afterall all these African despots ,war lords and milicia members in custody in Hague and Arusha have comitted as much as crimes as the evil Zenawi and others despots still in power .
Wonder if some one in the Diaspora has already managed to file the cases of the TPLF bandits and looters to the ICC and other Judicial Systems .I know in many Western Countries many African Human
Right Activists with the help of NGOs and International Organisations have already made filed the cases of their coubtries ‘
Despots and Tyrants .

01/30/12 @ 04:43
Comment from: addiszemen [Member]  
addiszemen

This time I really thought almaria will write about his employer isayass aforki. I tried to zoom everywhere in his article of no avail.
What a delusinal shamless carachter is this looser almaria?
How does he think he will get away with this crime of covering up for the #1 tyrant and dictator in Africa, isayass aforki.
If you talk about ICC, isayass aforki is the only one who belongs in the hague, for his crimes of imprisoning and torturring a whole 5 million people of that cursed land called artera.
Stop the cover up.
Ertrean people are crying for someone to say something for their suffering in a closed cercuit.
Their tears and blood will judge you!!

01/30/12 @ 07:48
Comment from: Truth [Visitor]
Truth

It is Monday again. Expect Woyane to throw some tantrum. Monday is an agonizing pain for woyanes and their lackies.

01/30/12 @ 08:15
Comment from: extraterrestrial [Member]  
extraterrestrial

ICC is about intimidating weak African states. Universal Jurisdiction is not a realistic jurisdiction, it is also no more an exciting concept to all states except to interest groups and lobbyists. Israel the very country who started applying the universal jurisdiction principle in the modern world is in trouble and is advocating for the abolishing of universal jurisdiction. Some countries in Europe have already abolished or reshape the application of this principle and changed their law, examples are Spain and Belgium. Yes, there have been times when the principle looks like the best instrument to deliver transnational justice but, now that perspective is a bit old fashioned.

Well seasoned international lawyers, diplomats, international relations experts and political scientists view universal jurisdiction as problematic in real world. African intellectuals believe the application of the principle of Universal Jurisdiction is all about intimidating and harassing militarily and economically weak African states.

After realizing the problematic nature of the principle many countries amended their law in connection to this principle. Geopolitics influence the principle of universal jurisdiction to be double standard, it is unlikely the principle can be applied on powerful states officials, and there are evidences when the USA warned Belgium not to apply it on certain cases, the USA has warned Belgium it will pull NATO headquarter and other development funds out of Belgium. Universal jurisdiction is nothing else but, western judicial imperialism. To me it is mesmerizing to see an African “intellectual” advocating for the implementation of universal jurisdiction in African soil without regard of its geopolitical implications.

Dare any state temper with Russian officials for the alleged crimes in Chechnya or dare any state temper with Chinese officials for the alleged crime in Tibet or dare to temper with Israeli officials for alleged crime on Palestinians and survive the political and military onslaught by those powerful states except on the weak African states.

The consequences of tempering with officials of powerful countries by any state are dire and no state would like to face that consequence for the sake of universal jurisdiction principle except on weak states in African and Latin America like Rwanda or Chile. It is absurd to hear an African glorifying the ICC, no African in the right mind can accept the ICC tempering with African state officials except in the treasonous and banditry minds of the Ethiopian Diasporas.

Have you ever thought that the universal jurisdiction principal can be applied on you and many Ethiopian Diasporas for past crimes and persistent continues criminal activities back home in Ethiopia? For me I can see you in the dock mumbling to defend yourself for the crime of genocide propaganda.

The principle of universal jurisdiction is mainly an attempt not to give safe heaven to run away criminals. The principle is a double edge sword that cut both sides, not only on the side you want it to cut, it can also cut you.

01/30/12 @ 08:51
Comment from: gashe_mamo [Member]  
gashe_mamo

For now Mr. Naziawe is putting his tongue out and making faces on ICC; But it is certain that one of these days we are going to see him behind bars like a wild animals. Actually that is where he belong, in a cage, inside the zoo, next to a sign saying ” not suitable to view for under 18 yrs “.

This mutated monkey has understood that if you obey and have an allay from the super power, ICC will not prosecute you. A good example is the Yemeni president.

01/30/12 @ 09:13
Comment from: mesfin_b [Member]  
mesfin_b

The next inline to be caught and tried at the Hague is the shifta/looter - Meles.
We will all witness this sooner than expected.

beka
beka
beka.

United we shall build a better Ethiopia.

01/30/12 @ 10:11
Comment from: oneluv21 [Visitor]
oneluv21

Once Hitler said that the Nazi ryle will lat for 1000 years but only lasted 12 years from 1930 thru 1945. Think about that.

01/30/12 @ 11:55
Comment from: Gemech [Visitor]
Gemech

The basic information of the ICC is copied from Wikipedia. So nothing new there for the reader. Not once did he mention that Israel and the US are not signatories to the Rome Statue.An indication that the ICC, like all other so called human rights fraternities, point their fingers only at the regimes of the developing world. Not once did he mention Mengistu Hailemariam, although his case cannot be handled by the ICC since It only looks into cases that took place after 2002. But for a pwerson who thinks he is a champion of human rights, he could have at least mentioned him as a passing remark. The most obvious deliberate omission was Isayas Afewerki. But this is understandable since the whole idea of the article is to dehumanise PM Meles and belittle the development forts that are going on in the country for the benefit of the Shabiya leader. What a waste of time?

01/30/12 @ 13:42
Comment from: Gemechu [Visitor]
Gemechu

Another crap from this crazy professor again. It looks like he is now assumed himself the Che Guevara of Ethiopia. He tries to represent the entire people of Africa.

01/30/12 @ 14:59
Comment from: oneluv21 [Visitor]
oneluv21

Once Hitler said that the Nazi rule will last for 1000 years but only lasted 12 years from 1930 thru 1945. Think about that.

01/30/12 @ 15:02
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]
TEDDY

TPLF Thugs Adgi and Extra of course ICC has become the nightmare for the African Tyrants at the whole.These bandits starting by your leba master with his Eri bros and Sudanese colleagues know perfectly that soon or later they’ll have to respond for all the crimes they have comitted against the peoples .
Wonder how some selfish guys dare to represent an institution (AU)supposing defending the foundemental rights of the African
Peoples which main mission is advocating the cases of these evil
gangesters supposing representing all of us .AU is the only international Institution which condemned the ICC decision accusing the Tyrant El Beshir for his participation on the Darfur Genocide.In 2005 it was the then AU
president Alpha Conde who unshamessly approved the fake result of the stolen election by the
crime minister and his clicks !!!!

01/30/12 @ 18:04
Comment from: ment4you [Visitor]
ment4you

Addiz Zefen,
What a brainless idiot you come here day in day out to defend Meles who by all accounts is no less a dictator than Isayas and some how in your mind you actually believe he is a hero of some sort…loser? I guess with that kind of brain incapable of critical thinking no wonder why the likes of came with the idea that selling land for 100 years is away to feed the people of Ethiopia? or is it quick easy money to run away with when your time comes? well don’t count on that you should first ask Gaddafi what happened to his billions…. moron!

01/30/12 @ 20:15
Comment from: ment4you [Visitor]
ment4you

Gemechu
There is no one crazier than you…. first of change your name back to your real name then …. there is a start for you back to being normal

kebet!

01/30/12 @ 20:20
Comment from: oneluv21 [Visitor]
oneluv21

AGAZIT WOMAN

LOL you sound so angry you must be one of those Tigrian hideous looking with a baboon face. LOL By the way when did you became Ethiopian when you were just yesterday fighting for over fifteen years to Free Tigray as TPLF, remember. I guess when you realize that your days are numbered, you get ugly on anyone who is not Tigray. Just remember your Wayane minority government who land locked Ethiopia can not hold power for ever not even for thirty years so relax and go back to your cleaning business.

01/30/12 @ 21:43
Comment from: Tulu Proud ET [Visitor]
Tulu Proud ET

Thank you so much Professor for your hard work and care for Ethiopia.

We are all waiting to see Meles and his criminal supporters taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face justice. Justice may be delayed but is not forgotten. The more Meles stays the more crime he commits and the more compounded his crimes are getting.

It is for sure Ethiopians will free themselves from 20 years of their sufferings. No government in the world stayed for ever and EPRDF is not immune to that.

It is the most hated regime in Ethiopia hanging on thin robe and will drop like a stone in water soon.

01/31/12 @ 20:36
Comment from: zebbedy Ceequinn [Visitor]  
zebbedy Ceequinn

The dictatorship, we must be careful when it comes to understnding the problems of this fernonia, The western World has done nothing but undermind entire regions globally on the say that they can label any melanin countrys function as diviert, for the last 60 years it has been western led puppet govts only to be the wests friend for as long as they trade fair and spout their sicko fant idealisms of not real values, its plain to see if Melanin doesn’t do as the west say they get labelled a dictatorship and a media circus are used to justify some sort of action, largely covert western sposared civil war and uprising basically desaster managed orchestration where melanin human lives are to be killed without humanity.This has been shown to be the case in the middleeast, all dictatorships have been a western label played out in the media, the globe has many leaders but we must stop siding with western influences as they dont give a dam about melanin, they are there to try to scupper cologen functions so as to armour western econnomictables of being the realmoney magnets ie African Leaders have a hard job to do their work has to be managed appropriately, with Auto cratic methodology due to the reason that being a bleeding heart LIB DeM wasn’t a real success rate of running the country ven so politic are a difficult science of making a function which satisfys everbody on a onboard idealism but we must try as ethiopian’s to stop repeating history of labelling our leaders tyrants, and go on sucidal overthrows which only causes damage to our pychics as a people the Durge was a clamity but yet many want to talk about revoloution when we are to blame for what we get out of our govt because ethios wont be pro active getting involved with what matters and concerns Us as a people instead its name calling revolution and another hundred years of arrested development at the mercyless western alliance , We must understand this, and remember throwing it all away because we wont be pro active is wholly unacceptable and the historical view are its a trow back of the last 30 40 years
We must do what we are suppose to and stop looking at white windows of what we want to describe about our selves and remember
To tune our minds into our ethiomindset of seeing and understandingwhat we are doing and should be doing.I say again a dictatorship is a western idealism which it focuses upon cologen melanin countries so as to undermind their society and culture, The problem with Melanin leaders the fall very short on clear cut competency when it comes to running the country successfully They must own up and answer the question can they really run the function with a successfully run country can they really do the job thats the real question to be noted.
If your leader doesn’t fit the Richmond boxes then they go on their labelling of tyrant and dictatorship, No ones suppose to be seeing their global destabilisation period

02/01/12 @ 08:16

rebtel

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