This point, from the comment section below is well taken.
“I think you have drawn the wrong conclusion from the article that you posted. Yes, broadly international justice is expensive. However, the article is referring to the wastage at the an Ad-hoc Special court for Sierra Leone. Similar claims of waste have been leveled at the Rwanda tribunal in Arusha. It should be remembered that one of the reasons for the establishment of the ICC was to reduce the wastage that came as a result of such ad-hoc courts. So in a sense, the expense of the Sierra Leone court justifies the ICC more than anything.”
I am on record as being pro the ICC. But this got me thinking about the absurdity of having such procedurally expensive justice systems meant to serve people who’s own justice systems are left to crumble….
“The entire budget for Sierra Leone’s domestic justice sector is roughly $13 million per year, including the Sierra Leone Police, the Prisons Department, all levels of the court system, and the various human rights and legal services commissions. There are just 12 magistrates for the whole country outside of Freetown, and they hear between 4,000 to 5,000 criminal cases per year. The lack of judges, lawyers, and police investigators –even the lack of a few cents in cell phone credit to contact witnesses that might implicate or exonerate a defendant –is a serious obstacle to a functional justice system.
In contrast, a quick tally using the Special Court’s [that tried Charles Taylor] annual budget reports reveal costs of approximately $175 million for the prosecutions of 13 other defendants in Freetown, in addition to the hefty bill for Taylor’s trial in the Hague. And the Special Court boasted 11 judges and hundreds of staff members for its 14 cases spread over the past nine years. Add on the testimony of Naomi Campbell, and it appears international war crimes have become a red-carpet affair.”
Joseph Kabila was sworn in today as President of the DRC following disputed elections last month. The main opposition has vowed to not recognize him as the legitimate president and are planning street protests. Some analysts believe that there will be blood in the streets of Kinshasa and other major urban centers.
If you think for a moment about the size and diversity of the DRC it becomes clear how hard it will be for the incorrigibly inept enormously challenged Joseph Kabila to be the one to drag the DRC out of its 50 year tailspin.
The truth be told, Mr. Kabila would not do any better running a village mboga kiosk. He is not an autocrat in the mold of Kagame, Zenawi, Museveni or even Sankara. He is closer to Samuel Doe, Bokasa and Valentine Strasser, ineffectual at best and outright disastrous at worst.
Speaking to a French radio station Moussa Camara (junior officer who now leads the military junta in Guinea that just killed over 157 people this past week) intimated that the country was in danger of experiencing another military coup were he to step down. This by extension means that the country will experience a military coup if he doesn’t win in the general election in January because, he says, the army is “unstructed.” Now we have had this line before. And it works quite well. Charles Taylor threatened the Liberians into voting for him at the end of the that country’s bloody civil war. Camara seems to be employing the same tactic to armtwist poor Guineans into letting him hold onto the reins of power. And he is totally not ashamed of the transparency of what he is doing. May be it is a junior army officer thing.
I wonder why it is always this half-baked junior officers that take over in coups in (West) Africa – the worst ever being Liberia’s Samuel Doe. Where are the Sandhurst and Westpoint educated generals? I think they might do a better job running countries than these junior officers. Perhaps it might be that the generals are already in the pockets of the civilians being overthrown in the first place. But still.
Macharia Gaitho, one of my favorite columnists at The Daily Nation captured my exact sentiments in his column today. I hope the American ambassador in Nairobi, and whoever it is that briefs Washington on matters Kenyan took note of this piece.
And in other news, Guinea has serious problems. The junior army officer who took over in a coup last year to “establish peace and democracy” has decided that he wants to hang on to power, inviting protests from Guineans not into such ideas. We’ve heard this story before, and we know how it ends.The Guineans should start reading on Samuel Doe, Jerry Rawlings, Idris Deby, Obiang, Museveni, Yahya Jammeh and the many others. Coups are the strongest predictor of future coups. A history of civil violence is also a strong predictor of future violence. Endemic poverty, an economy’s reliance on the export of commodities and weak to poor trade ties with the international community compound matters even more. The odds are stacked against the poor Guineans. They are in this for the long haul. And it sucks that the international community (including Sarkozy’s France) does not care about Guinea, as long as the generals keep exporting Bauxite.
Fun fact about Guinea: Guinea is a leading bauxite exporter, but most of its people live on less than $1 a day (courtesy of the BBC).