A Letter To the International Criminal Court
Last week I sent a petition to the UN in respect of crimes committed by the conservation industrial complex against Africa and the Global South. A representative of the International Criminal Court (ICC) responded to the petition. Please find below my rejoinder to the ICC.
Re: OTP-CR-296/12/001 : The Crimes of the Conservation Industrial Complex
I have read with interest your response to a petition which I and Dr Margareth Rungarara-Keenan submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the petition, we filed crimes against humanity charges against what we call the conservation Industrial complex, a coalition of Western governments, conservationists, family planning NGOs, scientists, billionaires, media commentators and academics.
The first line of your response was somewhat confusing as you stated that you received the communication on 1 October 2018. For the sake of clarity, the petition was sent to the ICC on 21 May 2019 and not 1 October 2018 after all, how can a petition filed on 21 May 2019 be received by the ICC 232 days earlier? Something must have got lost in translation as the date of your response is also the same day that the petition against the conservation Industrial complex was sent.
You note that the communication, “Concerns matters that are substantially similar in nature to those in a communication you previously submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor …. The Office of the Prosecutor has carefully examined your latest communication. I regret to advise you that the Prosecutor has confirmed that the communication does not introduce new facts or evidence that would alter the previous determination that there is not a basis to proceed under the Rome Statute.” I find it strange and disappointing that you can link two distinct petitions and arrive at the conclusion that the recent petition we sent does not introduce “new facts or evidence.” Mr Dillon, the two petitions are mutually exclusive. Since 2012, I have filed three petitions with the ICC. The first petition written in 2012 had to do with Crimes against humanity inflicted by the Nigerian banking sector on vulnerable Nigerian workers; the second petition which was written in April 2017 was sent in response to the Lagos State Government’s forced eviction of 30,000 people living in Otodo Gbame and breach of the UN’s Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement. The third petition was sent to bring to your attention the systematic reduction of human birth rates in Africa and other parts of the Global South.
Perhaps you may want to clarify what you mean by the recent petition being “Substantially similar in nature” with the petition sent in 2012. The only similarity with the prior petitions is that the actions conducted by the perpetrators are gross forms of injustice and crimes against humanity. If claims of crimes against humanity carried out by different organisations are dismissed on the grounds of lacking “New facts or evidence” what does this say about the organisation which claims to be the “Home for Justice?” Turning the ICC’s logic on its head, it seems that if a party raises consecutive issues of injustice, the prior instance of injustice negates the current instance even when both are unrelated. Contrary to the ICC’s Humanity Against Crimes programme which calls for both individuals and states to unite to protect people from suffering and help prevent mass crimes, individuals are being dismissed for “crying wolf.”
You note, the ICC may only “Exercise jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as defined in the Rome Statute (Articles 6 to 8), when committed on or after 1 July 2002 (Article 11),” and argue that the petition relates to matters outside the jurisdiction of the Court. Turning the ICC’s logic on its head, does this mean that crimes against humanity are time bound and subject to the statute of limitation? Contrary to your argument, the claims we filed fall within the parameters specified in the Rome Statute. Article 6(c) and 6(d) of the Rome Statute stipulates that genocide means, “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” and “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” while Article 7 (2) defines crimes against humanity as the “Intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population” committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. In the petition, we provided specific examples and information on how the above crimes were carried against Africans and people of the Global South.
Furthermore, the crimes detailed in the petition were carried out after 2002 and therefore fall within the time limit specified in the Rome Statute. For instance, Family Planning 2020 which was created in 2012 is still in the business of administering female sterilization in Honduras, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, Solomon Islands, and Sri Lanka.
You note, “In addition, the Court may only exercise jurisdiction over such crimes committed on the territory of a State that has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court or by a national of such a State (Article 12).” This you suggest is another reason why the petition falls outside the jurisdiction of the Court. Contrary to your claim, most of the crimes conducted by the conservation industrial complex occur within Africa, Asia and Latin America. Of the one hundred and twenty States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, thirty-four states are located in Africa, 28 are in Latin America and 18 in Asia. In addition, of the 69 focus countries that FP2020 is targeting, 31 of the countries are States Parties to the Rome Statute (Let me know if you want the breakdown). Furthermore, five of the six ICC field offices are situated in countries where the crimes highlighted in our petition are being carried out. Since the Africa is the Ground Zero for population reduction at the moment, your claim that the crimes were not committed in a state that has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court is far from the truth.
You note, “The Court may … exercise jurisdiction over such crimes …. where the Security Council refers the situation to the Court (Article 13).” But isn’t this paradoxical as three of the five permanent members (China, Russian Federation and the United States) that have a veto have not even ratified the Rome Statute?
You note, “I hope you will appreciate that with the defined jurisdiction of the Court, many serious allegations will be beyond the reach of this institution to address.” Really!!! For the want of a better phrase and with all due respect, the ICC is not taken seriously in some quarters. In many parts of Africa, the ICC is viewed as a tool for western imperialism. Nel Abbey, the author has described the ICC as, “A court created by white people which only ever tries black African people.” Does this mean that the only “serious allegations” within the remit of the Court are crimes committed by brutal African dictators? There appears to be an emerging pattern in the ICC’s administration of justice whereby crimes committed by predominately western individuals or organizations are not seen through. While African war criminals are in prison, we still see western war criminals like George Bush and Tony Blair yet to answer for their war crimes in the Middle East. In the odd case where the ICC decides to hold Western powers to account like the attempt to prosecute U.S. servicemen over alleged abuse in Afghanistan, the American government threatens ICC judges and prosecutors with prosecution in the US justice system, prevention from entering America and confiscation of their funds. Yet the ICC does nothing, but when two individuals file charges against crimes committed by white organizations in Africa and Asia, they are told to get new facts, there is no basis to proceed under the Rome Statute and their petition falls outside the jurisdiction of the Court.
I urge you to re-read the petition sent on 21 May 2019 as it appears that there might have been a mix up with the petition written in respect of the Otodo Gbame saga. Finally, I understand that the ICC is participating in a global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, the Court aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again. The Court should be true to its creed otherwise it will be dismissed as an irrelevant puppet for white supremacy and imperialism with no meaning for the 21st century.
Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA