International Criminal CourtWho benefits from rescinding the decision? [Archives:2007/1046/Opinion]

April 30 2007

Ali Al-Sarari
During one of its sessions, chaired by Yahya Al-Ray'i, Parliament rescinded its previous decision regarding admission to Statute of the International Criminal Court. This caused Yemen to lose a gold opportunity to beautify and improve its image in the eye of the world. According to parliamentary sources, rescinding the decision is concerned with the lack of quantum at the session when the decision was taken. Other parliamentary sources confirmed that the decision wasn't the only one taken during the session, and that other decisions weren't revoked. In addition, Parliament took tens of decisions in the presence of a similar number of MPs, and some of these decisions are concerned with significant laws or loan agreements, some of which total up to millions of dollars.

From the context, in which the decision was rescinded, the reason isn't concerned with the procedural aspects for Parliament to take its decisions or approve any draft laws. The main reason is political and it increases fears on the part of authorities and MPs with regard to approving entry into the International Criminal Court. Some of these fears are related with intentionally created concepts while others emerge due to ignorance of ICC content.

But, those who opposed the agreement and provided false explanations still insist on their rejection of this court and its statute. Also, they left the top place of opposing this court to the other team that has become a victim of misunderstanding the statute. This has been apparent through the division and fragmentation of the Islah Party's Parliamentary Bloc members. As the majority of members belonging to this bloc retained their support for the statute, others worked hard to revoke the decision, thus offering a precious service to the objectors.

Within the same arrangement, it has been made clear how terrible is the political easiness that forces politicians to pay the cost in an issue, which is not theirs. The tricky leakages have succeeded to persuade MPs of the Islah Party Parliamentary Bloc that ICC Statute will be the only means due to be used by the U.S. to arrest Sheikh Abdulmajid Al-Zindani, who is wanted by the U.S. for allegedly funnelling money to terrorism. This charge is not authenticated by any announced evidence.

Fearing any harm to Al-Zindani, the enthusiastic people turned to oppose the ICC Statute, which functions as the best guarantee for Al-Zindani to confront the U.S. demands for his arrest. The Statute ensures Al-Zindani the right to be tried before a Yemeni tribunal and in conformity with the Yemeni laws. Also, it doesn't oblige the Yemeni authorities to hand over Al-Zindani to the U.S. Administration over alleged charges.

If we suppose that Al-Zindani may be, one day, handed over to the U.S. authorities, such will not be one of the fruits of Yemen's approval of the ICC Statute. Instead it will be the fruit of security coordination and the approval of mutual security agreements, which are secretly signed by Yemen and the U.S.

Those who fear any harm to Al-Zindani should learn that the Israeli and U.S. governments top the list of countries who oppose ICC. Both U.S. and Israel exercise various forms of investigation and pressure to prevent other world countries from joining the ICC in order to protect their armies who are serving in hostile wars against other countries.

During their wars, the U.S. and Israel commit crimes against humanity, and to end these brutalities, the ICC was established to punish those who commit these crimes. Additionally, the statute is not implemented retrospectively nor does it pass any sanction on acts committed before it was approved.

It is important for those who fear any potential risk to Al-Zindan to bear in mind that the ICC is only held when the domestic judiciary is paralyzed or is unable to maintain justice. These people had to comprehend the lesson of the arrest of Sheikh Mohammed Al-Moayyad and his companion Mohammed Zayed by the German authorities and then handing the pair over the U.S. authorities to try them.

Although Germany signed and approved the ICC Statute, it didn't extradite the pair in conformity with this statute. Instead, the European country handed the pair over to the U.S. Administration under a mutual security agreement, which it reached with the U.S. Such a security agreement is the basis that decided fate of Al-Moayyad and his companion as we heard and saw.

If Yemen approved the ICC Statute at that time and the charges attributed to Al-Moayyad and his companion comply with the statute's goals and implementation mechanisms, the pair's fate would be totally different. It was supposed for the pair to be tried in a Yemeni court according to the Yemeni law.

The most significant objections to the statute succeed since they allow harms to be paid to Yemen's national sovereignty and this is a baseless pretext because the Yemeni judiciary is the instrument, through which the ICC implements its goals. It is not possible for a Yemeni suspect to be tried in another country and according to the international conventions except in case that the Republic of Yemen collapses. In this case, there is no meaning for Yemen's national sovereignty, and if the Republic of Yemen becomes unable to try a suspect for any reason, we will know the one who benefits from not trying those who commit crimes against humanity.

Yemen had the chance when Parliament approved the ICC Statute to confirm its seriousness and credibility to be part of the democratic system and the modern humanity. This can help raise Yemen's status and persuade international donors to lavishly support it.

No doubt that the numerous benefits, which Yemen is due to gain by approving the statute, are due to be replaced by losses after rescinding the decision. The worst thing is that rescinding the decision revealed the real intents behind playing with the subject, as well as the reports on human right abuses and crimes against humanity. Those, who commit crimes against humanity, are usually released.

This is an indicator that we missed development. We should acknowledge that Ms. Amal Al-Basha, Chairwoman of Arab Sisters Forum, has bravely struggled and organized meetings and discussions to provide MPs, politicians and civil community activists with details about the ICC Statute and its benefits. When Parliament approved the statute, all the MPs received congratulations for being convinced that the statute is right.

Ali Al-Sarari is a Yemeni Journalist and a well-known politician. He is the head of the information department at the Yemeni Socialist Party.

Source: Al-Thawri Weekly