I wonder why the International Criminal Court (ICC) is never taken seriously? According to the Associated Press, the ICC has rescheduled the trial for former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo — which was originally scheduled for November 10th until January 28th 2016 alongside Charles Blé Goude, who was the former president’s appointed Minister for Sports and Youth.
Whether Americans should care about the Ivory Coast or not, isn’t shocking. But what should be considered is how important the role of the International Criminal Court could be. It’s the only court in the world which can hold statesmen accountable of crimes, effectively bring them back down to our level of punishment.
This brings to mind the effort Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas made last year to join the ICC, which is a new move in the Palestinian fight against Israel. A public effort to make a connection to some legitimate process that would finally hold Israel accountable. My hope from this would have been that the ICC would finally be taken seriously and to a certain extent it was.
This news about the delay comes at the same time that Gbagbo’s opposition wins another term as the Ivory Coast’s president, Alassane Ouattara.
My assumption here is that you’ll need a bit of the back story to understand, that former President Laurent Gbagbo reigned the Ivory Coast from 2000 until his arrest in April of 2011, after elections voted in Quattara as the next president.
The thing is Gbagbo refused to leave, which resulted in a stand off between Gbagbo’s forces and Quattara’s UN back soliders before they stormed Laurent’s compound and pulled him out, apparently by blasting through a cement wall.
His wife is also accused and being held. You can see these videos as the before and after of the arrest. Notice the sounds of artillery outside, likely in celebration of his arrest.
Prior to this stand off, it was Quattara who had won that election and was to be the next president, forcing the Ivory Coast in the right direction into a new era of change.
But there is still the issue of the Duékoué massacre which took place before the former dictator’s arrest, where 800 to 1,000 people were reportedly killed. According to IRIN, the massacre was the final retaliation by Quattara’s forces against Gbagbo’s supporters, a “settling of affairs”.
If those people were killed by the new president’s forces then it likely was overlooked as the lesser of two evils. Because, we all know how fucked up shit is over there.
But as the year begins to close, governments all over the world act as we do at the end of the work week. We start to wind down and work less and the ICC is no different.
Sure, Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and his appointed minister of youth and sports are certainly going to trial so perhaps there’s nothing to worry about here. Apparently, the reason it’s been rescheduled is because the former president isn’t well enough to be tried.
Perhaps that’s the former president’s attempt to delay things in which case it’s the ICC who’s too timid to prosecute because he’s done this before when he successfully delayed the election process repeatedly, which did eventually take place in 2010 but were supposed to take place in 2005, due to a conveniently timed civil war.
If things have really changed for the better for the Ivory Coast then certainly having Gbagbo out of the way is part of the progress it needs, but does it have to be this slow? The ICC’s delay has only slowed things down some more.
In a related case, the ICC is demanding that India turn Sudan’s president al-Bashir over to them for war crimes.