By Duke Nii Amartey Tagoe
Yaw Opoku, a legal practitioner and a former Deputy Registrar of the Ghana School of Law, has described the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an organ of coercion aimed at individuals that work to oppose the interest of Western countries.
He said that like the prisons and police services that operate at the level of the state as organs of coercion, the primary objective of the court at the international level is also to protect the interest of foreign finance capital in Africa and to ensure that a particular class of people continued to hold power on behalf of their masters in North America and in Europe.
Yaw Opoku was speaking at a well attended public forum organized by the Socialist Forum at the Freedom Centre in Accra.
“There are two major reasons why Africa is targeted” he said, “firstly the gold, diamond, crude oil and several other resources including the cheap labour accounted for this focus on the continent. Cobalt is a key mineral in the telecommunication industry and the largest deposit can be found in The Congo, with the largest deposit of Uranium in Mali and Niger which the multinational corporations from Europe need. ”
The highly respected legal practitioner made reference to former US Vice President, Dick Cheney’s report to the US Congress that stated that more than 15 percent of the US crude oil need will come from West Africa and to ensure a constant supply, the West needs to plant Heads of State in West Africa to gain access to these resources.
The other reason for this onslaught on Africa, he revealed, has been described as the resuscitation of the Berlin Conference in the division of Africa for control by the neo-colonial governments.
According to him, it is not enough to talk about the ICC without talking about how the West supply arms and ammunition to all sorts of rebel groups to fight amongst themselves and to weaken progressive governments towards the partitioning of Africa.
He admitted that there are some African heads of state who go beyond bounds often using tribal and religious reasons but the answer he said, is not the ICC.
He considers the cases sent to the ICC from Africa as a shroud that covers a struggle for power for the control of African resources and explained that Africa today is the most pillaged continent because her resources are attractive to international finance capital.
According to him, international finance corporations like banks and companies who have made super profits and seek to accumulate more wealth, manage to enter into politics using their surrogates and once they capture power, completely take over the management and the policies of the state.
He revealed that in La Cote D’Ivoire, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation were instrumental in the coup that deposed the regime of President Laurent Gbagbo because Gbagbo’s policies were nationalistic and was trying to capture economic power for Ivory Coast.
“The charge being brought against Ivorian President Gbagbo at the Hague is simply hogwash, disgusting and most unacceptable because long before the coup, President Gbagbo had been resisting France and other foreign companies over their attempts to loot the natural resources of that country.
“These forces were behind the disturbances that led to the division of the country between the North and the South and supported Alassane Quattara and his gang of rebels that terrified, tortured and killed innocent people in their thousands and yet he has been left free” he said.
In Libya, Yaw Opoku held the view that the invasion of that prosperous country was for the purposes of controlling her oil resources adding that the same thing happened in Iraq and it’s now happening in Syria where millions of lives have been lost.
In the Sudan, the quest of the ICC to prosecute President Omar Al Bashir, according to Yaw Opoku, is because the country has two strategic importance as it holds millions of oil and also forms a strategic link between Africa and the Middle East.
“Throughout history, Sudan has served as the only transit point for people moving from Africa to Mecca and also trading in the Middle East. They settled there before they crossed to Mecca. So Sudan plays a very key strategic link between Africa and the Middle East which is a key resource place for the West” he said.
Apart from the geographical importance of Sudan to trade in Africa, merchant ships that travelled to the far East also passed through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea that bounded Sudan.
Mr Opoku therefore elucidated that the West needed somebody who can be submissive to their dictates and that must inform the reason why they needed to oust the democratically elected President of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, from power and install a person who they can control to control the sea way to Africa.
ICC and the Impunity and Immunity of the West
The former Deputy Registrar of the Ghana School of Law has also challenged the assertion that the set up of the ICC by the Rome Statute was for the need of a court at the international level that could deal with the impunity of individual governments and soldiers who took the law into their own hands in Africa and elsewhere and said it was also repugnant.
He has called for deeper interrogation of the ICC approach to the solution of impunity. According to him, it was an act of impunity when the United States of America arrested President Manuel Noriega of Panama on 3rd January 1990 and subsequently gaoled him on US soil.
He challenged that although it is known that Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are behind the war in Syria and Yemen, he doubted if the ICC will drag anybody from these countries to the ICC.
Many human rights activists and advocates the world over have called for the prosecution of Tony Blair and George Bush, former Prime Minister of UK and President of the US respectively by the ICC, for the huge numbers of people killed in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan but that ICC has argued that the two countries are not signatories to the Rome Statute, a stance Yaw Opoku considers as an incapacity of the ICC because of the Veto power wielded by the US, France and Britain.
Structure of the ICC
The Security Council of the United Nations determines who and which cases can be sent to the International Criminal Court.
Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the ICC is not in charge of the court. She is hea of Prosecution. The overall administration of justices of the ICC is handled by The Presidency composed of three judges who preside over trails and appeals.
The Judicial Divisions composed of eighteen judges deal with the Pre-trial Divisions, the trial and the appeals. In the case of the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Pre-trial of the ICC could not marshal enough evidence it needed to put the case for a full trial by the office of the prosecutor.
But why the choice of a black African, Fatou Bensouda from Gambia, as the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as a successor to Ocampo?
“Personally, if you asked my opinion, I think it is one of the things the imperialists do by placing coloured people in some sensitive positions who will do all the dirty work for them and then turn round and say ‘it is not us oh, it is your own black fellow who is prosecuting you” Yaw Opoku said.
According to him, just as Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian and former UN Secretary-General, has been put in the front of the campaign to push patented seeds and Genetically Modified food producing companies into agricultural systems of Africa, the selection of Fatou Bensouda was strategic because the majority of the cases under trial at the ICC are from Africa- Uganda, DRC, Sudan and the Central African Republic, Libya, La Cote d’Ivore, Mali and Kenya- and that informed the choice if more of African leaders who are rebellious of the dictates of the West can be successfully kept away”.