Saturday, June 6, 2015

Yaya Jammeh wants ICC to investigate Italy and the European Union over African migrant's drownings in the Mediterranean

ICC's Fatou Bensouda
"The Gambia has formally asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the circumstance surrounding the deaths of African migrants who died at sea trying to make it to the European mainland", the regime of Yaya Jammeh announced on government-controlled radio and television.

The decision was relayed to the Gambian-born ICC's Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, at a meeting in the State House in Banjul with the Gambian leader, Yaya Jammeh and the African Union (AU) who have played a critical role in her international legal career.
It is the very same AU that Yaya Jammeh and other disgruntled  African leaders, including Uhuru Kenyatta are threatening to withdraw their membership from to establish a rival body that will advance the cause of the Pan African ideal and spirit since the African body is a stooge of the "imperialists powers like America and the EU."  The election of the Chief Prosecutor would not have been possible without the endorsement of the continent's premier political body thus posing a political dilemma for her.

Jammeh claims that because his government's earlier demands to the European Union and the United Nation to investigate were ignored, he had to turn to the ICC for action against Italy and the European Union thus putting the Gambian Chief Prosecutor in the limelight after her failed attempt to bring to book Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta's alleged role in the post-election violence in 2007-2008 over 1,200 Kenyans died.

The controversial case pitted the Chief Prosecutor against the AU that sponsored her candidature that led to her elections that led to the talk of setting up an African version of the ICC.  Perhaps, by asking Mrs. Bensouda to investigate Italy and the European Union over the deaths by drowning of thousands of Africans is a way of redressing, in the mind of the Gambian dictator, what many African leaders see as the Court's bias towards African warlords and dictators.

The fine line that the Chief Prosecutor has to walk between her allegiance to Jammeh, whom he served as his Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the African Union who put up candidature against an Australian, a Tanzanian and a British legal expert (all highly qualified).  There is little doubt that Mrs. Bensouda's professional independence has been and continues to be put to the test by these opposing forces with different political agendas.  The latest demands are coming from Gambian dissidents abroad who'd like to see her open an investigations into the conduct of the Gambian dictator's human rights abuses, despite the high threshold set in the Rome Statutes for crimes against humanity.

The highly unpredictable dictator of one of the world's poorest and Africa's smallest country during his meeting with the Chief Prosecutor implicitly accused the European Union of deliberately contributing, if not actually causing, the deaths of thousands of Africans, including a disproportionately high number of Gambians in the Mediterranean.

During his meeting with the Chief Prosecutor, Jammeh did not only question the motives of the Italian navy that was conducting the rescue missions but blaming them of the high number of deaths because "if what they are doing today, they were doing before, no African will perish" according to Jammeh who never bothered to acknowledge nor issue condolences to the relatives of hundreds of Gambian lives lost at sea.

In fact, Jammeh blamed the parents of the drowned for encouraging their children to migrate - parents he called "un-Islamic" but yet will blame the Europeans for the migration when it is evident that mismanaged macroeconomic policies as well as his deplorable human rights record are contributing factors to the out-migration of young Gambians.

The last thing the Gambian Chief Prosecutor needs is to be seen on national television taking, what appears to be, her matching orders from her former boss at a time when Jammeh's image abroad has taken a serious turn for the worse, and from the caricature image of the village idiot who claims to have discovered the cure for HIV/AIDS to a human rights abuser to threatens to slit the throats of gays and lesbians.  As we said in our Facebook page, Jammeh is advised to leave well alone and stop drawing unnecessary international attention and ridicule to her and the ICC.