Zambia launches public hearings regarding ICC withdrawal

The headquarters of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. PHOTO/Vincent Jannink/AFP/Getty Images

Zambia has launched public hearings to obtain views from citizens regarding the country’s membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to a senior government official.

The country’s Justice Minister Given Lubinda, speaking to reporters Thursday said, although Zambian officials had not been specifically targeted as of yet as “wrongdoers”, the government wanted Zambians to contribute to the debate.

“During this consultative process, the people will make submissions that will enable the government to make its decision regarding Zambia’s affiliation to the ICC. It is this decision that will culminate into a position that will be presented at the 29th African Union (AU) Summit scheduled for this coming June.”

Lubinda added certain countries on the UN Security Council had power to refer matters to the ICC but were not members of the court.
“This has brought the question of the sincerity these countries have in their quest for justice,” he said.

In February, President Edgar Lungu said the government would consult the people before making any decision on the country’s membership to the ICC.

This followed a resolution adopted by African leaders at the African Union (AU) Summit where they called for a collective withdrawal from the international court, although the decision is non-binding after accusing the court of only targeting African leaders.

There are 34 African members of the ICC, making up the largest single bloc of the 124 states that have ratified the 2002 Treaty of Rome, which established the court to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity cases in the wake of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and genocide in Rwanda.

Thus far, 97 percent of people who have been charged by the court in The Hague are African.

This has fostered the belief among some Africans that the court was unfairly singling out the continent’s leaders.
Powerful nations such as China, India, Russia and the U.S., never ratified the Rome Statute over concerns about sovereignty and the exposure of their citizens and soldiers to the court.

The hearings will run from March 27 to May 31.