Friday, September 20, 2013

Mrs. Simone Gbagbo will not go to the ICC

Cote d'Ivoire government has decided today not to transfer former First Lady, Simone Gbagbo to The Hague to face charges of crime against humanity.   She will instead be tried in domestic courts. Her husband, former President of Cote d'Ivoire, on the other hand is currently in the custody of the ICC awaiting similar charges.

This is the second blow in a span of two weeks that the ICC have sustained at the hands of African governments.  The first was dealt by the Kenyan government when it decided on September 6th that President Kenyatta and his Vice President Koto will not be travelling to The Hague, as previously agreed, to face charges of crime against humanity.

In an earlier editorial piece I wrote for The Gambia Echo, which you can find here I suggested that the criticism of the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC by the African Union " in her handling of the Kenya case in accordance with the Rome Statute, the AU is undermining the work of the very candidate they ( the membership ) fought so hard to get the position."

The decision by Cote d'Ivoire to try the former First Lady locally is understandable given that Mr Laurent Gbagbo is already at The Huge.  To transfer his wife too would be seen by many, including supporters as an overkill and further evidence that the Ouattara government is out to exact revenge when it should be reconciling the various political faction within the country to stabilize the security situation to allow for national reconciliation to facilitate economic growth and development.  After all, it is not all cases are suited for The Hague.  Local courts with the capacity and that can guarantee a fair trail should be an acceptable alternative for some cases.   According to government issued statement the " good reputation of the Ivorian courts has been restored and...can conduct a fair trial that will guarantee the rights of the defence."  The reaction of the ICC to this latest setback is not yet known.  I suspect it will be one of disappointment.