International Criminal Court Challenging Russia
Alexander MEZYAEV | 15.12.2014 | OPINION

International Criminal Court Challenging Russia

Formally international criminal tribunals have been set up to hold accountable those who carry primary responsibility for perpetrating international crimes. In fact it is nothing but eyewash. The real purpose was to do away with state leaders who have been fallen out of favor. The practice of going beyond the established legal system to substitute it with new laws has become commonplace. If the politicians fallen out of graces had no relation to committed «international crimes», then the criminal actions were perpetrated by somebody else. That’s what has taken place in the cases of Slobodan Milosevic, the President of Yugoslavia, Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Côte d'Ivoire, Jean Kambanda, the Prime Minister of Rwanda, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of Libyan revolution, Radovan Karadžić, the President of Republika Srpska… 

The event that took place on December 2, 2014 served as a warning of imminent attack against Russia prepared by the so-called international justice. But before we switch over to Russia let me say a few words about…Kenya. This African country provides the most recent example of an attempt by International Criminal Court (ICC) to topple a head of state. The charges against Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, were brought as far back as 2011, but the trial has not begun as yet. (1) The prosecutors had no witnesses! On December 5, the case was dismissed by ICC prosecutors. It had been preceded by the Court’s ruling to either launch the judicial proceedings or acknowledge the fact that it lacked evidence to do so and terminate the case. It means that the prosecutor’s office admitted it had absolutely no evidence to go upon in the case of Kenyan leader! It’s all just a game played to deceive common people with no experience in such matters. The judges and prosecutors are all part of one entity – the International Criminal Court - and they all take part in the decision making process. The ICC just put on a show for public. Even as far back as in 2011 it was evident that the charges against the President of Kenya had no relation to law. It was a politically motivated action. But the Court signed the indictment in January 2012. To be exact, it was related to only two out of three defendants. I emphasize that it was done by judges, not the prosecutors. It means the court cannot act as protector of Uhuru Kenyatta’s rights because two years ago it decided that the submitted evidence was not convincing enough. Now it has been revealed that there is no any evidence at all (!!!). The further unfolding of events is nothing but a big scandal. First the indictment was signed against two persons (out of three). Then the case against one of them (Francis Muthaura) was dropped by the prosecutor’s office. It means that the prosecutor’s office admitted that the evidence submitted to the court was not sufficient after the court found it quite conclusive! Obviously all this evidence tampering put the prosecutors and the judges into an awkward situation. 

The International Criminal Court has become a driving force for promoting the repressive laws fully ignoring the rights of the accused. Today any person in any country can be called a criminal without producing any evidence. Even after the case is dismissed there is a chance that new charges will be brought against him (or her). 

There is one more aspect to be mentioned in relation to the case described here. The activities of the International Criminal Court are called «witch hunt targeting Africans» or «race hunting». This definition coined by Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni hits the nail right on the head. All the cases currently open at the ICC are exclusively in Africa (1). The Court’s legitimacy is derived from the consent of countries – parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. African countries represent a large regional group. The International Criminal Court presupposes that all international criminals live in the Dark Continent only. This policy has been questioned since a long time ago. The ongoing crisis in the relations between the International Criminal Court and African states was sparked as a result of bringing a legal action against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. It was absolutely clear in 2011, as the legal proceedings were launched, that there was no proof of the President’s guilt! An African Union’s summit demonstrated the readiness of African states to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The ICC has withdrawn the charges against Kenyatta in an attempt to prevent such a turn of events. It’s clear that without African states being unanimous in their opposition to the arbitrary behavior of the Criminal Court the case would not have been dismissed. 

International tribunals are not juridical legal institutions, but rather political entities taking only politically motivated decisions.

Now about Russia. The Russian Federation is not a party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court. It does not recognize the jurisdiction of this repressive organ of «global governance». But the fact does not prevent the ICC from brazen interference into Russia’s internal affairs. The same thing happened with Libya and Sudan – the states that were not parties to the Statute. The cases of Libya and Sudan were forcibly referred to the International Criminal Court to set a precedent of practicing repressive international law. Actually it requires some stretch of imagination to call it «a law». The existing international legal base is going through changes. The goal is to coercively make the heads of states who have fallen out of favor face the International Criminal Court. The changes are introduced without the participation of those who are supposed to become prisoners of international legal system. 

On December 2, 2014, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, published her annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities. The section devoted to Georgia attracts special attention. As far back as September 2011, Russia asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes perpetrated by Georgian government against Russian peacekeepers and the population of South Ossetia. Individual victims of the crimes committed by Georgia in August 2008 also independently asked the Court to examine the case. A few years had passed and the ICC never reported anything in concrete terms. All of a sudden there was an unexpected turn of events. The recently issued report by International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor says the examination has entered into a new phase and there are serious reasons to surmise that large-scale systematic attacks against civilians did take place in August-October 2008, but not by Georgian military against South Ossetian civilians. The report states quite the opposite! Moreover, the Chief Prosecutor insistently emphasizes the participation of the Russian Federation in the conflict. Paragraph 138 says that the return of Georgian refugees became possible only after Russian forces had been withdrawn! The conclusion strikes an eye – the Chief Prosecutor says «the information available on the alleged attack remains inconclusive» because «Georgian and Russian authorities gave contradicting accounts of the events that happened just before and right after 7 August as well as during the subsequent aerial and ground offensive». (paragraphs 141-144). Here is the news! If all prosecutors followed this logic then not a single case would ever be examined at all. Such a conclusion made by the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor looks like mocking Russia. 

So the International Criminal Court has used the crimes committed by Georgia against South Ossetian civilians for bringing charges against Russia. The ICC examination is not over as yet, but the message is clear. The Chief Prosecutor said the ruling is to be expected very soon… 

The arrests and kidnappings of state leaders by international tribunals have become a routine matter. But taking somebody under arrest is not the main goal. Trumped up cases presuppose public hearings and there is always a risk of being accused of preparing false witnesses and deceiving international community. In some cases it’s more expedient to accuse or just threaten with lodging charges against someone. For instance, the President of Sudan al-Bashir freely travels around the world and could be easily arrested if need be, no matter the arrest warrant was issued a long time ago. But the «international community» keeps on talking about the need to execute the warrant and does nothing in practical terms. Why? Because the warrant issued to the Sudanese President helped the West to dismember the country. True, the recognition of South Sudan’s independence (the country lost around 20% of its territory with main oil reserves) does not meet the Sudan’s interests. At that Omar al-Bashir agreed to hold a referendum, no matter the result was known in advance. In fact he became the founder of the new state called South Sudan. This behavior explains why no action has been taken in accordance with the arrest warrant issued by ICC. 

The International Criminal Court may not issue a warrant to arrest Russian officials. The very threat to do so is enough. It’s easy to guess what the International Criminal Court expects from the main defendant in the «South Ossetian case». The example of Sudan provides a clue… 

There is also another example – Kenya. It’s time for Russia to make known its position with regard to repressive organs of the so-called international legal system and support the states ready to oppose the arbitrary activities of the International Criminal Court, first of all the states of Africa. Africa should withdraw from the Statute of the International Criminal Court delivering a death blow to this judicial body, especially depriving it of funds. Is it not peculiar that the African states constituting the largest regional group among the International Criminal Court’s member-states provide funds to support their own oppressors? 

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(1) Today the cases of Kenya, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Uganda, Congo, the Central African Republic and Libya are referred to the International Criminal Court.

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