Home | News    Tuesday 3 March 2009

Libyan official says 37 African countries to withdraw from ICC

March 2, 2009 (KHARTOUM) —African nations plan to withdraw their membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) to protest a possible arrest warrant against Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, a senior Libya official today.

Libya’s state minister for African affairs Abdul Salam Al-Tereyki

“Thirty-seven African nations that have ratified the Rome Statute will un-sign the treaty if it issues an arrest warrant for Sudanese president” Libya’s state minister for African affairs Abdul Salam Al-Tereyki told reporters in Khartoum today.

However the Libyan official provided no further details. Currently there are only 30 African countries that are members of the ICC.

Last month the head of the State Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, Liechtenstein’s Christian Wenaweser said he is not aware if any move by African countries to revoke their membership at the ICC.

African nations comprise the majority of ICC members but some of its leaders have expressed concern that the court is only prosecuting African figures.

“We think there is a problem with ICC targeting only Africans, as if Africa has been a place to experiment with their ideas” AU chairman Jean Ping said in press statements last month.

“A judge should be impartial” he said. “The law should apply to everyone and not only the weak”.

The ICC is currently handling 4 cases consisting of Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Darfur.

Al-Tereyki who is also the African Union (AU) envoy for Sudan met with Al-Bashir today and reiterated the regional’s body rejection of the ICC move, according to Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA).

SUNA quoted the Libyan official as saying that his country in its capacity as AU president will put all its resources to resolve the ICC row within Africa “without giving any chance for foreign interference”.

Last month the Libyan leader Mu’ammar Qadhafi said that Israel and not Bashir should be held accountable for Darfur crimes.

“Key [Darfur] rebel leaders have opened offices in Tel Aviv and meet frequently with the [Israeli] army….If Tel Aviv among others is behind the events in Darfur, why then call Bashir or the Sudanese government to account” he said.

In February a joint Arab League-African Union (AU) delegation in New York met with UN Security Council (UNSC) members to lobby for Article 16 resolution which allows the UNSC to suspend the ICC prosecutions in any case for a period of 12 months that can be renewed indefinitely.

However the supporters of Article 16 do not have the required nine votes to push through this resolution.