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ICC, AU mend strained relationship

President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, (M) with some African diplomats. Photo: NAN

The President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), The Hague, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, has assured African leaders that the continent would be treated fairly by the Court under his leadership.

Eboe-Osuji, who gave the assurance while addressing African ambassadors at the Nigeria House in New York, blamed the strained relationship between ICC and African leaders on “communication gap”.

The Nigerian-born judge from Imo was elected at a time when ICC was facing accusations of unfair bias towards the African continent.

The ICC President explained that his priority in office would be effective communication with all States Parties so as to avoid misinformation and misunderstanding.

He said States that contributed the most to the ICC budget were concerned about how to make effective use of funds.

“So all around it’s all about communication. If you don’t communicate well, you create opportunity for misunderstanding, for misinformation; people will start assuming things…

Earlier, Nigeria’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Samson Itegboje, said the meeting was to interface with Eboe-Osuji over the strained relationship, noting for the first time, both ICC President and Prosecutor are from Africa.

“So we are hoping that the new scenario will engender a situation where some understanding will be created between the ICC itself and the African Union,” Itegboje said.

Some African Ambassadors expressed concerns at the focus of ICC on the African continent and expressed the hope that with an African at the helm of affairs at the Court, the concerns would be addressed.

ICC investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community, as the court of last resort for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

However, the Court had been criticised, particularly by the AU, for its focus on Africa and some African countries had been debating about leaving the Court .

The AU proposed a mass withdrawal from ICC in January 2017 and Burundi had withdrawn its membership, Kenya threatened to withdraw while South Africa revoked its withdrawal after its High Court voided it.

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