BLANTYRE: Malawi government to the chagrin of many African Union Members, has received much applause from the international organization for making a decision to remain a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at a time many African countries are withdrawing their membership from the body seen as biased against them.
According to the Maravi Post the government officially communicated to bilateral donors and institutions its decision to stay as member of the court on Tuesday. This is seen in many quarters are cowering to donor pressure as the squeeze Malawi for budgetary funding.
The court has faced criticism for allegedly pursuing its own agenda with court cases, which some African countries believe it deliberately targets the continent.
Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia have already written the court on their decision to leave.
The United Nations (UN) has backed the country’s decision to remain a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying that African countries are better placed to influence change at the court as members.
United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Mia Seppo, said on Wednesday that issues by African member states on how the ICC operates will better addressed “from within”.
“They [Malawi] have informed us including in writing of their intentions to stay as a member of the ICC for now as there are issues to be resolved. But those are better addressed from within other that from outside,” Seppo said as quoted in the Malawi Paper.
She described the ICC as a unique international institution which can be weakened if African countries choose not to be members.
“It is an avenue for justice for African member states, so it would be better to influence from the inside. I think the strategy that government has chosen can be clearly recognized and is quite health. Let us wait and see how the situation evolves in terms of the various continental conversations around,” she added.
She, on the other hand, said that it will also be important that Africa civil society organizations’ voice should be heard on the matter.
Almost all but one of the ICC’s 10 investigations have been based in Africa and the court’s verdicts have been against African suspects.
This has led to calls for an African regional court.
Minister of Information, Malison Ndau told the local paper that though some African countries are opting to quit in support of others that have left, Malawi is basing its decision on the premise that member states are incorporated individually.
“We are watching and listening to what is happening and at a proper time we are going to make a decision but as of now we are still a member of the ICC,” Ndau said in an interview with a Malawi Paper.
Asked on whether the decision will not mean betrayal to other African countries, Ndau told the local paper that “Malawi will not be moved by decisions made by other African member states.”
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is one of the African leaders that have faced trial at the ICC.