If Foday Sankoh, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Charles Taylor, Thomas Rubanga, Germain Katanga, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, and others were indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), after their grand falls, for perpetrating crimes against humanity, what of those that supplied them weapons?
It recently came to light that a Paris Court convicted some bigwigs from French authorities for illegally selling weapons to some African warlords, specifically in Angola. If anything, this is an eye opener. They’re still a lot more criminals out thither that need to be indicted so as to do justice to the victims. For they cause myriad miseries wherever their weapons are delivered.
The son of former French president Francois Mitterrand and ex-government minister were convicted for their roles in illegal sales to Angola. Jean-Christophe Mitterrand was given a two-year suspended sentence, and ex-Interior Minister Charles Pasqua was jailed for one year. They’re convicted of accepting bribes to facilitate arms deals to Angola in 1993-98, in breach of French law.
On the same breath, prosecutors accused Israeli-Russian billionaire, Arkady Gaydamak and French mogul Pierre Falcone, of being the key figures in the arms trafficking worth $790,000,000. Mitterrand, an Africa adviser to his father in the Elysee Palace, was ordered to pay 375,000 euros and Pasqua was fined 100,000 euros, while two years of his prison sentence were suspended.
They made millions. They’re ordered to pay just thousands? What a mockery!
The scandal was dubbed “Angola-gate” by the French press as details of murky deals involving politicians, businessmen, public figures and weapons were revealed. This is but a tip of iceberg shall the grim past of Africa be visited. The world is chock-full with such criminals whose bread comes by shedding the blood of innocent people. But who has the guts to agitate that those criminals be submitted to ICC simply because their greed enhanced many miseries in Africa?
Angola for long has been bleeding to death thanks to macabre business involving illegal arms that used to nourish UNITA. True, Mozambique suffered the same fate alongside Liberia, Sierra Leone and now Somalia. DRC, as well, is still bleeding to death thanks to this menace of illegal-arms trade.
The West and some African accomplices such as Rwanda and Uganda guard this illegitimate way of making money and obtaining cheaper minerals so much so, that they never wants to talk about it. As such therefore, under collective responsibility, French authorities must be sued for the role their officials played. If governments whose officials participated in committing holocaust can be sued, what of those governments whose officials supplied weapons that caused much mayhem in Africa!? What adds injury to assault is the fact that the authorities were aware of this sacrilege.
There is another sad episode involving the UN peace keeping force, “the blue hermets”. Pakistani soldiers serving under the UN in DRC, were found guilty of supplying weapons to rebels in DRC in exchange for gold. When this came to the fore, they were repatriated to their respective countries. Since then nothing has ever been heard of them!
In 2007 Human rights groups in the lolling central African nation say Pakistani officers serving in the 17,600-strong force were involved in the illegal smuggling of up to $5 million US in gold from the trouble-plagued northeastern Ituri region. The shady deals saw weapons returned to rebels of the Front of Nationalists and Integrationalists (FNI), said by the Congolese government to be responsible for war crimes during Congo’s long-running conflict.
There are yet more crimes on top of arm smuggling. One of the more infamous was 2004 revelations that UN personnel had been involved in sexual exploitation of local girls and women, including rape and pedophilia. Can’t affected countries sue the UN? What pains is the fact that the same UN has maintained silence!
This year India canceled a new UN peacekeeping deployment plan in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to a scandal of sexual abuse by Indian troops in that country, said a local newspaper, The Asian Age on Sunday. “About 200 Indian Air Force personnel who had assembled in New Delhi for the assignment were asked to disperse after the new assignment was canceled.” Unnamed sources of the air force were quoted as saying that the UN Secretary-General Pan Ki-moon has urged India to take “disciplinary action to the maximum degree permitted by Indian law”, against those involved in the sexual abuse scandal.
Why should Indian law be applied whereby what was committed falls under international law? Why Indian law whilst the crime was committed in DRC that falls out of the jurisdiction of the Indian court? Hither is where ICC comes in. Why is the ICC agitating that Kenya must submit her post-election-war lords, whilst it turns a blind eye on UN attrocities in Africa?
Can’t Ki-moon’s words be admitted as admission before the court of law? Mark my words, this is the third time UN is caught off guard as far as committing crimes in Africa is concerned. Refer to what transpired in DRC in the early 60 when the first PM of DRC, the late Patrice Lumumba was felled as the UN, alas, was watching! The genocide in Rwanda persisted due to negligence and indifference of the same UN.
If the international community has failed to appreciate this by taking proper steps, why should it not squeeze responsible countries to redress the victims? It pains to see media from the same erring countries displaying grim pictures from the affected areas, as their countries pretend to extend support to peace whilst they actually are the beneficiaries-cum-obstacles to the same peace. Do you remember the role CIA played in ruining Africa? Can’t it be sued for this?
By taking on these imperialists, accomplices and conspirators, Africa can forge ahead. Failure to this, the same criminals and refuseniks will go on receiving short suspended imprisonments and soft penalties as others spring out.