Saturday, March 24, 2012

BBC Africa Debate asks whether "Africa is on trial"

The March edition of BBC World Service’s programme, BBC Africa Debate, will discuss whether the International Criminal Court (ICC) places too much emphasis on African cases.

Broadcast at 19.00 GMT on Friday 30 March from Nairobi, Kenya, the debate “International justice: is Africa on trial?” is presented by the BBC's Akwasi Sarpong and Karen Allen. BBC Swahili’s debate on the same subject, presented by Anne Mawathe and Odeo Sirari, will be broadcast on the same day.

Human-rights advocates and victims of human-rights violations appreciate the ICC’s role in international justice, even though all the court’s active cases are from the continent. They argue that most investigations to date have been determined by referrals, either by African states or the United Nations Security Council.

However, a lot of African leaders see the ICC as a body which focuses mainly on the African continent effectively ignoring crimes committed elsewhere in the world. Some critics have gone as far as accusing the ICC of politicising justice in Africa and undermining other alternatives such as reconciliation and traditional justice. Some question the fact that three veto-wielding UN Security Council members - China, Russia and the USA – have not signed up to the ICC, and their nationals therefore would never be referred to the court.

Rachael Akidi, BBC Africa Debate Senior Producer, says: “The ICC was set up to prosecute the perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. As ICC marks its tenth anniversary this year, BBC Africa Debate will be asking whether its focus on Africa is undermining its credibility and whether its newly appointed Chief Prosecutor – who is from The Gambia - can bridge the apparent divide between the court and the continent.”

So is the ICC a valid court of last resort, or an example of the West flexing its muscles in the African continent? BBC Africa Debate will be discussing the issue in Nairobi with a high-profile panel, in front of an audience of invited guests including prominent African legal experts, human-rights activists, victims of violence, religious leaders, Kenyan politicians, academics, students and media representatives.

This edition of BBC Africa Debate will be recorded from 10.00 on Friday 30 March at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, and will be broadcast by BBC World Service at 19.00 GMT on the same day. The programme will be repeated on Sunday 1 April at 13.00 GMT. Each edition of BBC Africa Debate is broadcast from a different location in Africa.

BBC Swahili’s debate will be recorded at the same location on Friday 30 March, and will be broadcast on the same day.

(Source: BBC World Service Publicity)

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