Museveni ratified the Rome Treaty because he thought it would apply only to Joseph Kony and the LRA. He was so shocked when the net was widened to cover heads of state. Those lawyers in Uganda supporting M7 on this should read the Pinochet case, and the decision of the House of Lords in the second and final appeal. Remember in this case, Pinochet did not deny that he had committed the crimes with which he was charged. His defense was of state immunity, that as a former head of state, he enjoyed legal immunity from all crimes. In fact, up to this point, this was the accepted position in international human rights law.
But in a judgement considered a judicial tsunami, this British court delivered probably the greatest judgement of the 20th century. Very rare in itself, the appeal was heard twice and presided over by the full bench of 7 judges. I know this case very well because I wrote a Master of Philosophy degree thesis on it.
Ugandans should note this: The court decided:
1. That some crimes are just so heinous that nobody has got any immunity from them, and least of all a head of state whose primary responsibility to is protect his citizens;
2. also that certain crimes are such an affront to humanity and to human conscience that they attract universal jurisdiction i.e any country in the world has a right to try the perpetrators.
Museveni was shocked by this judgement, given that it would simply strengthen the mandate of the ICC.
A legal earthquake took place in a British court in 2000 and its ripples are still being felt today because people like Museveni can no longer brutalize his people with impunity. It is totally bogus to claim the ICC targets Africans. It targets African dictators. Even criminals like George Bush fear the ICC and the ending of impunity. He can no longer travel to the UK and other countries because he knows he will be arrested. Even in little Senegal, human rights groups went to court to have George Bush arrested when he visited. In Tanzania, they also tried to arrest him. People like James Mugerwa who want the ICC disbanded are apologists for dictators and criminals.
The ICC mandate still applies to non-signatory countries. Please notice the following:
1. The ICC is a developing court, its jurisprudence as well is developing. You can not therefore expect it to prosecute all cases that may come within its jurisdiction.
2. The ICC mandate is triggered in circumstances where a state is unwilling or unable to prosecute a perpetrator. This means that not all cases will necessarily be referred to the ICC, in otherwords, the domestic courts still retain jurisdiction over more than 99% of international crimes.
3.The Geneva Conventions that came into effect at the end of World War have now proven ineffective and completely unable to deal with international crimes, hence the need for an international court.
4. Some of the most heinous and egregious crimes that have taken place since the establishment of the ICC have occurred in Africa. This is a fact Museveni and fellow dictators must not run away from.
5. Anti-ICC campaigners base their arguments on a false logic. They cite US belligerence towards the court, the gross human rights violations that have accompanied Western and particularly American invasion and occupation of countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc, crimes for which, in a majority of cases, no one has been punished. But just because no-one has yet been prosecuted for these crimes does not by itself make the ICC an instrument of the western powers. The fact that the international community is waking up to its responsibility even if in a haphazard and ineffectual manner does not in anyway detract from the necessity to carry on regardless.
6. African dictators like Museveni and others are in mortal fear of the ICC precisely because they know the ICC targets them and is not afraid to do so.
UAH member and working with the IMF