Former State House spokesperson Dickson Jere says whether Zambia withdraws from the International Crimibal Court (ICC) or not, its rulers can still be arrested by the same court.
Commenting on the ongoing process by the PF to withdraw Zambia from the ICC, Jere said once a country is a member of the United Nations (UN), it cannot escape the jurisdiction of the ICC.
He explained that this is because the UN Security Council still has a mandate to refer cases of serious crimes to the ICC even from countries that have either pulled out or are not members of the ICC.
‘This is the reason the Sudanese President Omar Bashir has been issued with the arrest warrant by the ICC following the UN Security Council Resolution 1593 of March 2005. The Libya human rights abuses were also referred to ICC by the Security Council. Both Sudan and Libya are not members of the ICC,’ Jere a lawyer explained.
Jere however noted that at times arrest warrants issued by the ICC have been ignored by the same UN member States as President Bashir has been to South Africa, Malawi and Chad without any attempt to arrest him by the respective governments. This is purely an operational question. It does not mean that since South Africa did not arrest Bashir, Tanzania or Mongolia won’t arrest Lungu when his time comes.
Jere why Under international law, precisely the “Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties” States cannot to be bound by obligations that they did not consent. So why should ICC be an exceptional case?
The answer here is that ‘consent’ is defined broadly. When you join the UN, you ‘consent’ to all UN regulations including those you did not individually sign.
Do you know that out of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, three are not members of the ICC? So why should powerful countries that do not subscribe to the ICC refer cases of other countries to the same ICC? Food for thought for now.
Jere also poked fun at the UPND statements that they will refer the presidential petition to the ICC. ‘By the way, the. ICC does not deal with election petition or petty political squabbles in a member State. It’s mandate broadly deals with three crimes, namely, (1) war crimes, (2) genocide and (3) crimes against humanity.’
This is correct. The ICC does not hear election petitions. It is a crninal court. It can handle cases of crimes against humanity such as the ones the PF has been committing especially during elections.
‘So I am not sure what the African Union (AU) ultimate goal is to ask member states to consult whether to pull out or not because either way one cannot escape the ICC route so long as you are in UN’, Jere concluded.