Thursday, December 16, 2010

ICC warns perpetrators of possible crimes in Ivory Coast

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, ICC Prosecutor.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo (pictured) has warned all parties involved in the disputed Presidential elections in Ivory Coast that the court would prosecute perpetrators of crimes - should violence escalate. This warning comes only a day after the Prosecutor presented a case against six Kenyans for massive crimes against humanity committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya.

Ivory Coast is in chaos and recent events have raised fears of violence and possible commission of crimes - as incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo clings to power after reportedly losing the Presidential election to opposition leader - Alassane Ouattara.

Incumbent Laurent Gbagbo clings to power despite loud and clear calls from the international community, including the African Union, United Nations, European Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and countries including the United States, South Africa, France, Nigeria.

Earlier today, troops loyal to Laurent Gbagbo clashed with supporters of Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan, killing at least one person.

This post-election chaos in Ivory Coast is representative of the sorry-state of democracy and the rule of law in Africa - a continent where incumbent Heads of States, more often than not overrule the peoples' choice in presidential elections and cling to power. This, no doubt, often leads to post-election violence and massive crimes against unarmed civilians. We have seen it in Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Kenya, you name it.

Although Ivory Coast is not party to the Rome Statute, the ICC Prosecutor's warning against possible violence in Ivory Coast is a timely deterrent against possible crimes against humanity in the west African state. Governments shouldn't use the principle of "Sovereignty" as a shield against justice.

No one should die as a result of power mongering and disputed presidential elections. Above all, under no circumstance should perpetrators of post-election crimes against humanity go unpunished.

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