INTERVIEW-ICC says protecting Africans, not targeting them

Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:57pm GMT

* Some critics accuse court of only going after Africans

* ICC's Bensouda in Ivory Coast after request to investigate

By Tim Cocks

ABIDJAN, June 29 (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court's deputy prosecutor rejected charges it unfairly targets Africa on Wednesday, saying the victims were also African and that indictments were led by referrals from Africans themselves.

In a joint interview with Reuters and France's TV5 in the Ivorian capital, ICC Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the high rate of referrals in Africa could just as easily show that leaders on the continent were taking their responsibilities to international justice seriously.

Bensouda, a Gambian, is in Ivory Coast to lay the ground work for a possible investigation of war crimes relating to a violent power struggle between President Alassane Ouattara and former president Laurent Gbabgo over a disputed poll.

Critics including African Union president Jean Ping have accused ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of double standards for so far only targeting crimes committed in Africa.

"Any time I hear this about ICC targeting Africa, ICC doing double justice (standards), it saddens me, especially as an African woman," she said. "Most of these conflicts are happening on the continent ... The ICC's concentration on Africa is always as a result of the engagement of the African people with ICC."   Continued...

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