CORRECTED: Africa must change perception of ICC: Burkina leader

9th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore said Wednesday that Africa's perception of the International Criminal Court as a tool of Western imperialism needed to change.

"It is our duty to sensitise Africans... We must continue to convince them that such a court is essential," Compaore said during a conference at the world war crimes court in The Hague.

"There is a misunderstanding, a misapprehension when it comes to the cases launched by the ICC on the continent," Compaore said.

The ICC was created through the adoption of its founding statute at a Rome conference in July 1998, which Burkina Faso ratified in 2004.

The ICC is the world's only independent, permanent tribunal with the jurisdiction to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

All cases opened by the court so far relate to crimes committed in Africa and the United States is not one of the court's 119 state parties.

"When there are thousands of victims, it is impossible to handle for our national jurisdictions," Compaore argued.

Burkinabe Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole, who was also in the Hague, said: "We all know the majority of crises take place in Africa."

"Many African countries believe that the ICC was a tool from the Western world against African countries," he said. "There's a perception to be changed."

Several African heads of state and even the head of the African Union's executive body Jean Ping have criticised the ICC as an institution applying double standards.

The ICC has issued arrest warrants against two sitting heads of state since it became operational in 2002, Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Libya's Moamer Kadhafi, who was slain last month.

Compaore came to power in the impoverished west African nation in a 1987 coup that killed his long-time comrade-in-arms and then president Thomas Sankara.

© 2011 AFP

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