(Photo by Daily Maverick)
By Simon Allison
He might not be a president, but Rwandan spy chief Karenzi Karake is still a very big fish. His arrest in London, on a Spanish warrant, could precipitate another crisis for international justice. A word of gratuitous advice for the British authorities: This one’s delicate! Handle with care.
Another day, another crisis for international justice.
First it was the arrival of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on South African soil, and South Africa’s ensuing failure to arrest him – defying both the International Criminal Court and South Africa’s own judiciary in the process.
Then it was the arrest in Germany of Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour, detained at the airport in Berlin at the request of the Egyptian government. Egypt had convicted Mansour in absentia for allegedly torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011, and sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment. On Sunday, Mansour was released without charge, with the Germans citing diplomatic, legal and political concerns that could not be ignored (presumably, these have something to do with the Egyptian military regime’s notorious lack of respect for the judicial process, especially when it comes to journalists).
Finally, news broke on Tuesday that Rwandan spy chief Lieutenant-General Emmanual Karenzi Karake, head of the notorious National Intelligence and Security Services, had beenarrested in the United Kingdom while trying to depart from Heathrow. Karake is one of 40 Rwandans indicted by a Spanish judge in 2008 for allegedly ordering revenge massacres in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. If the process gets that far, it will be to Spain that Karake is extradited.
The three cases represent three very different facets of international justice. Bashir’s is an example of the top-down approach, where an international body investigates and prosecutes international crimes; Mansour’s is an example of the national approach, where bilateral agreements and coordinating bodies like Interpol help countries enforce their national laws in other jurisdictions; and Karake’s is an example of universal jurisdiction in action.
“The term ‘universal jurisdiction’ refers to the idea that a national court may prosecute individuals for any serious crime against international law — such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and torture — based on the principle that such crimes harm the international community or international order itself, which individual States may act to protect,” explains the International Justice Resource Centre.
The majority of states (163 of the 193 UN member states, according to Amnesty International) provide for some kind of universal jurisdiction, but few exercise it. Spain is a notable exception. Spain has actively prosecuted international crimes committed in faraway jurisdictions such as Argentina, El Salvador and Guatemala – and, of course, Rwanda.
Karake’s arrest is a major test of universal jurisdiction in action, and there are enough allegations surrounding him to suggest that he should have his day in court. As well as the charges relating to the post-Rwandan genocide massacres, Karake is implicated in the killing of hundreds of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo during fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces.
(Coincidentally, given the current comparisons with Bashir, Karake was appointed in 2007 to head the African Union/United Nations hybrid mission in Darfur, with strong backing from the US and UK. Bashir, of course, is wanted by the ICC on charges of committing genocide in Darfur).
Although the legal case for Britain to extradite Karake to Spain is solid, there are political considerations that might get in the way.
Karenzi Karake in London, on Rwanda Day. (Photo byJambo News)
The most significant is the close relationship between Britain and the Rwandan government. Rwanda is a major destination for British aid, and President Paul Kagame is advised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Already, Rwanda is putting on heavy diplomatic pressure to secure Karake’s release, with its ambassador the UK describing the arrest as “an insult”. But the British government won’t be able to ignore its courts in the South African manner. Should Karake’s arrest warrant be in order, and all procedures properly followed, it’s going to be difficult to prevent his extradition.
Which begs the question: why was Karake detained in the first place? According to media reports, Karake has made several trips to Britain since 2008, and he has been permitted to leave each time. This implies either that something has changed – most likely, that the furore around Bashir’s non-arrest forced Britain’s hand – or that some border official was a little over-zealous in the execution of his duties, and now it’s too late for anyone to turn a blind eye.
Another factor that the politicians will be considering is the ramifications that extraditing Karake will have on the already strained relations between the African continent and international justice. It will be a public relations coup for African leaders looking for further justification that they are being unfairly targeted by the West. While there are sound reasons for the German court to have released Mansour, and for a British court to extradite Karake, these decisions could just as easily be portrayed as western judiciaries choosing to enforce western arrest warrants (in the case of Spain and Karake) while refusing to enforce African justice (in the case of Egypt and Mansour).
Britain, in other words, is in an extremely delicate position. If it does go ahead with extradition proceedings, and eventually extradite Karake to Spain, it risks angering an important ally and alienating a continent – while giving self-interested leaders more fuel for their claims of western bias in international justice. If it doesn’t, it will have to defy its own rule of law, potentially dealing a crippling blow to the concept of universal jurisdiction in the process. It’s a legal and political minefield, complicated by a diplomatic storm that shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. No one ever said international justice was easy.
Hey my dear readers…
I’m so sorry I have been missing on updating you guys.
I’m busy with new projects you will soon be able to see….
So far I hope you all stayed informed and interested…
here.. NEWS ABOUT KENYA…
New York Times published:
NAIROBI, Kenya — With a new Constitution overwhelmingly approved by voters, Kenyan politicians are now talking excitedly about their country’s golden future.
“Kenya has been reborn,” declared Kiraitu Murungi, the energy minister, shortly before final results were announced Thursday showing that the new Constitution had passed, with 67 percent of Kenyans behind it.
No doubt, the new Constitution and the remarkably peaceful way in which the referendum was conducted Wednesday was a much-needed boost of self-confidence for the country.
read full article here
I’ll be back soon…
A reader’s comment on my last post about the election of Oman Al-Bashir made me think that I might as well go deeper into the whole subject and chart the different aspect of this Election.“I think it is good news that Sudan held an election in along time, like 2 decades or more, plus it went peacefully.
So…we cant expect much else, at least for now.”
This year elections were the first “democratically” held election since 1986. (…) The 1986 elections were held after the fall of Field Marshal Jaffar Mohammed Numeiry, who seized power in a 1969 military coup and ruled the country until he was ejected in a popular uprising in 1985. source Omar -Al Bashir came to power in 1989 when he, as a brigadier of the Sudanese army led a group of officers in a bloodless military coup that ousted the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al- Mahdi. In October 2004, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement (SPLM) negotiated an end to the Second Sudanese Civil War,one of the longest-running and deadliest wars of the 20th century, by granting limited autonomy to Southern Sudan. (…) Al Bashir’s government even signed the the Comprehensive Peace agreement (CPA) in 2005, an agreement between the SPLM and the NCP to develop democratic governance countrywide and share oil revenues. It further set a timetable by which Southern Sudan would have a referendum on its independence. (…) Since then, however, there has been a violent conflict in Darfur that has resulted in death tolls between 200,000 and 400,000.During his presidency, there have been several violent struggles between the Janjaweed militia and rebel groups such as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in the form of guerilla warfare in the Darfur region. The civil war has resulted in over 2.5 million people being displaced, and the diplomatic relations between Sudan and Chad being at a crisis level. In July 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, accused Al-Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The court issued an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir on 4 March 2009 on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for genocide. The warrant will be delivered to the Sudanese government, which is unlikely to execute it. Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state ever indicted by the ICC. source But the African Union, the League of Arab States, The Non-Aligned Movement, the governments of Russia and China have opposed them to this decision.
Why? One of the reasons is surely that Al-Bashir raised Sudan to be one of Chinas and Russias most import OIL-PROVIDER in the last few years. So despite ICC arrest warrent Al-Bashir is a free man, even thought Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa said, he will have him arrested should he dare to put one foot on South African ground.
How could Al-Bashir get elected president again and what choice did the Sudanese people have?
For the first “free and fair” election since the military coup that brought Al Bashir to power in 1989, the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement (SPLM) nominated in January 2010 Yasir Arman, as the party’s presidential candidate in the north. Arman was a important negotiater for the CPA agreement between South and North Sudan. (Another potential candidate of the SPLM was Riek Machar).
(…) Arman articulated his party’s national ambitions in an interview with Sudan Tribune one year ago. “In many occasions the SPLM in the north has demonstrated that it is growing, it is a force to reckon with. In fact it is one of the biggest forces, and it is to be noted that the SPLM—the movement that started in South Sudan, it is the first movement in the history of Sudan that started in a marginalized area and then it engulfed the whole of Sudan.”(…)
So President Al-Bashir, had as the main challenger :
From the North: former Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi (Interview with Al-Mahdi) and from the South : SPLM-Frontman Arman.
But then one candidate after the other boycotted the elections.
The southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – which serves in a coalition at national level with President Bashir – first announced it was boycotting the presidential election over fraud and security fears in April 2010.
Other parties in the north followed suit, saying they believed the electoral process had been rigged in favour of Mr Bashir’s National Congress Party. Then the Umma party announced that it is boycotting the general elections at all levels.
Sadig Al-Mahdi, explained at a press conference the reasons for the boycott.
“Our main concern was the issue of the transportation and control of the ballots and the fact that the number of polling centers were reduced to less than half of the original number. This denied other parties in the states the chance of participation in the elections and the National Elections Commission did nothing about this issue and this led to the general boycott of these flawed elections. When the issue was discussed for the second time, the view of the majority of our political bureau was in favor a complete boycott of the elections. The political bureau yesterday took its decision to boycott of elections at all levels because these elections do not represent the real will of the people of Sudan. “….
please view: Al Mahdis Reasons for the boycott
” The aim of the boycott is to rob President Omar al-Bashir of the opportunity to legitimise his rule.
He has governed Sudan for more than 20 years, but his indictment by the International Criminal Court on alleged war crimes in Darfur now hangs around his neck like a millstone.
He has been campaigning vigorously in the run-up to the vote on 11 April, travelling across Sudan, and was busy rallying his supporters in Sennar – east of Khartoum – as his opponents plotted their withdrawal.
His dilemma now is how to respond to the boycott. It is also a blow for Washington, which was laying a lot of store on these elections and wanted them to go ahead.* ” (Zeinab Badawil, BBC News)
* according to the CPA agreement of 2005, the election were set for 2008/9 !
But the US did not react as the Sudanese people expect them to.
Ibrahim Ali Ibrahim says on the “Sudanese Tribune”:
(…)Sudanese regret that US did not do more as promised to prevent and address such irregularities, manipulation of the process by the NCP,… The US did not only ignore the mass fraud, manipulation, and intimidation that characterized the elections, but also helped in making this scheme possible. The Sudanese opposition had hoped these elections would have led to a democratic transformation… Unfortunately, the US administration views the elections mandated by the CPA as a prerequisite for the referendum in the South to be held in January 2011(…)The fear of Bashir aborting the referendum has been the driving force behind the U.S policy towards Sudan. Ironically, this policy seems to have helped him in aborting the democratic transformation process promised by the CPA agreement(…)This contradicting role encourage the regime of Al Bashir to abrogate the last chapter of the CPA, and the referendum for the South(…) “the US is on our side”,he says. He fears nothing(…)The irony of this policy is that US has achieved none of its goals in Sudan(…). source
I’d like to share one last opinion on this:
Its from a Sudanese political activist, living in the US, called Deng T. Liem :
(…) I believe that it is the best interest for south to vote for President Oman Al-Bashir in this election, not because he is the best President for us, but because he was one who had signed CPA with south. If he will act to disown his own signatory, however, it will make it easy for south to declare UDI for south against his regime and the whole world will rally behind south as they would have known that, President Al-Bashir has breached his own signature on CPA document…
1. President Oman Al-Bashir will not make unity attractive, whatsoever; therefore, south will overwhelmingly vote to secede in 2011, 2. He has vigorously agreed with his nuclear Islamic fundamentalists’ society and endorsed religion state of Sudan that would be governed by “Sharia Laws” opposed to secular New Sudan of SPLM and therefore, President Oman Al-Bashir is now a sought separatist, and 3. He is a partner in CPA and any attempted breach against referendum provision would be grave mistaken as it would be taken very seriously by international community and CPA peace brokers
However, Mr. Yasir Arman will make it difficult for south to secede for these fundamental reasons I listed below.
1. He has no base in north to govern without south, 2. He would not let his base to secede to taint his political carrier and north, 3. He will keep his base by making unity attractive to south and votes for unity, and 4. He must abnegate his known secularism mentality and joins his nuclear Arab people in north to declare wrecking war against south and charges south for disowning it owns SPLM’s compelling principle of New Sudan in place. source
We well all have to watch very attentively the next steps of the NCP. Even thought Al-Bashir new elected presidency (à la “Survival of the fittest”) lay open many question marks and unsolved problems (and more important many disappointed people!), I sincerely believe that this results were strategically (not morally!) correct and I’m exited to see what is going to happen next.
researched and commented 4u by mwoogie
please feel free to comment
Many Burundians have cast their ballots yesterday in elections, the top United Nations envoy to the tiny African Great Lakes nation said today as he praised the peaceful staging of the polls so far… read
People are slowly changing their mentality and realize that they have to be active if they want something to change for their countries. Despite of the violence of these last weeks, more voters showed up on Sunday, than the government ever expected.
After years of chaos and civil wars, Burundi and Rwanda have made big efforts this last years, and are moving faster than any other country in Africa towards democracy and peace… with great results!
(…) As the UN special representative to Burundi recently remarked, this country could be an example to others in the region. (…) read
4u by mwoogie
A top official of Ethiopia’s government said he is proud of the administration’s handling of what he called a free and fair vote…
(…) “We prepared ourselves for the last five years despite the allegations that democracy has narrowed down. All what we did was to expand the democratic spectrum and they show that a free and fair environment will prevail. That is what we have been trying to do and that ultimately has paid off,” he said. (…)
VoA.news.com article read
and… Meles Zenawi is optimistic !
Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his economic record makes him highly optimistic of another term of office after last Sunday’s election. However, the opposition are crying foul and complain of fraud, which Zenawi has rubbished… read here
see also Elections results analyzed by Daniel Berhane:
view: Ethiopia: Election I
researched 4u by mwoogie
see the latest Al Jazeera Report on the elections in Ethiopia…
This is a very smart comment by Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmicheal) (1941- 1998) (watch vid, link below!!!!)
In this contribution Kwame reflects on the New World Order. Talking about the new restitance of the obpressed, exploitation, justice & order and the new pride of the obpressed.
This vid’ is a bit older but still very topical. I think what he says here is smart because he has got an important point there: No matter how often and how long we try to put up some new laws and fight against the exploitation we will always find ourselves stuck in this vicious circle of setting new rules, which we have to break again if we don’t want to fail again. We have to understand that is not about justice but about reordering our world. We will never grow above ourselves as long as we let the “obpresser” rise up, as Kwane explains.
So how are we supposed to grow out of this circle?
REORDER our mentality, our dependance. We still are not controlling half of our ways. By letting the “obpresser” be our “helping hand”, our “role model” we confirm the place the obpresser gave us in this world. He extands (and destroys himself again), with OUR sources, while we just stay behind, split up in thousand little pieces, wondering where did we go wrong. The past is the past. But the methods havent changed. They even worse… Back in time, it passed from King to King, now we have 1000s who want a piece of the cake. We lost any kind of transperence. Any kind of trust. We have to reorder our thoughts, think what do we want for the next generations and how are we going to get it. Are we ready to fight? Because indeed there are no compromisses… There’s just a yes or a no!
watch the vid’