Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Anatomy of a War Crimes Trial: The Criminalization of International Justice, by Christopher Black



Ronan & The Barbarian
[At this time, when the forces of Global Privatization find themselves in a last-ditch sickening struggle to neutralize with extreme prejudice those few remaining pockets of rational Popular Resistance: in Eastern Ukraine, in Ba'athist Socialist ruled Syria, and throughout occupied-Palestine and the north of Africa, territories that make up Israel's self-proclaimed 'Deep Security Zone'; when Real History is in a full-scale steel-cage death-match with a tawdry multitude of bought-off suck-up scholars, mind-less Think Tank Policy Wankers, feckless and fully-fettered Political Personalities, all covered-up in free-spun cotton candy by the craven and servile Misinfotainment/Terrorism/Industrial Complex: Now seems it right to cast a little light on a very specific suppurating sore in this pestilential cluster-fuck that has become the pursuit of International Justice. (We will not speak of Peace because none is in sight here, there or anywhere.)  

The fistula we'll lance with this post is in among the swollen organs of the United Nations, it's ad hoc tribunals, the poisoned fruit of the Security Council's monstrously perverse copulation with the ruthless interests of Private Waste Capital headed by the US/UK/EU and Israel.  As the U.S. DoD and State Dept. are now trying to turn our entire planet into a sort of 1990s Central Africa, with their mercilessly militarized plagues, Ebola, resource theft and neo-colonialist warfare, Genocides against genocide: CM/P's own Minister of Defense, Chris Black, will recount his experience in 'successfully' defending General Augustin Ndindiliyimana.  

'Successful' is not meant to be cynical: the General was acquitted of everything and is finally back home among his family in Belgium.  It's just that this 'success' seems to have had zero effect on bringing any correction to the suicide dive the international order is currently locked into.  And what is the real gain when you've demonstrated The Truth of History to a tribunal in the scrub of East Africa and the out-back of Holland, and when you look around everyone's eyes are even further drained of any decent feelings by The Great Terror and its faithful Sancho, Righteous Anger (Righteous because it oozes up from deep Ignorance)?

Like MSNBC’s sweet little Ronan Farrow ‘succeeded’ in asking Paul Kagame about some of his more recent Crimes Against Humanity—not the 1990 invasion from Uganda; not the double presidential assassination of 6 April 1994 that triggered a military offensive inside Rwanda comparable to anything the Nazis laid on the Soviets in Moscow or Stalingrad; not the innumerable treaty violations and ceasefire refusals; not the systematic emptying of the country of its ‘superfluous peoples’ and the ‘assumptions of the homes, lands, properties and pensions’ by the new putsch government (another page right outta the Lonesome Joe Goebbels playbook)—but just some more current body-drops, former loyalists who found some heart and their balls at the same time: all Kagame had to say to Mia and Frank’s pale and growingly unsteady bastard child  was, “These, what you’re talking about, these’re some OLD crimes. I’m tired of talking about this stale shit.  Let’s talk about Business Progress and Women in government. Hell, name me one national leader hasn’t assassinated his predecessor or some loudmouth getting all up in his business.  Or had to get rid of a few million people—all genocidaires, mind you—who hasn’t had to move some dirt bags along. Bet you can’t!”  Yeah, Ronan, Pilate is NOT Al Sharpton.

It is our hope that this paper Chris delivered at a conference on Rhodes last week will be an antidote to the recent viciously and stupidly rejected appeals by the ICTR in the cases of Édouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse, officials in the MRNDD, Ildéphonse Nizeyimana, a captain at the Military Training School in Butare, and Callixte Nzabonimana, a minister of Youth and Associative Movements who also served as the MRNDD chairman in Gitarama prefecture.   All cases absolutely comparable to The General’s.

Since this UN miscarriage has chosen to charge the victims of foreign invasion, occupation, mass terrorism through mass-slaughter, the so-called majority Hutus, as the real perps in these crimes, by averting even the slightest glance toward the other belligerents in this hellacious, quarter century-long African World War, in fact, dubbing the fascistic, Western-backed RPF as the heroes who actually Stopped the Fucking Genocide: this sort of role-reversal, this ego-defending projection can only mean that the guilt of those charged with an instrumental 'genocide' must, itself, be instrumental and unjust. --mc]

****************************


The Rhodes Paper: 

by Christopher Black

The Criminalisation of International Justice
   Anatomy of a War Crimes Trial

Col. Gadaffi                         Pres. Milosevic

The Nato-ordered indictment of Muammar Gadaffi by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) during the Nato attack on Libya in 2011 echoed the indictment of President Milosevic by the prosecutor of the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal For Yugoslavia during the Nato attack on that nation in 1999.  Both men ended up dead as a direct consequence: Gaddafi brutally murdered by Nato-supported forces in Libya; Milosevic dead in his cell at Scheveningen in circumstances indicating criminal negligence or murder at the hands of the same forces. The indictments of these two men, whose only crime was to resist the diktats and imperial ambitions of the United States and its allies, had only one purpose, to serve as propaganda to justify Nato’s aggression and the elimination of governments that refused to bend the knee. Consequently, those that issued the indictments are co-conspirators in the planning and execution of those wars.  The international criminal justice machine has become a weapon of total war, used not to prosecute the criminals who conduct these wars, but to persecute the leaders of the countries who resist.

Saddam Hussien of Iraq                    Charles Taylor of Liberia

Milosevic and Gaddafi are not the only victims of this criminalised international legal structure. The list is long. The judicial murder of Saddam Hussein by the Americans and British and their Iraqi collaborators was also based on a clearly political sham-indictment and, though portrayed as an Iraqi affair, was another show trial arranged by imperial power. In fact, American officers were in charge of the entire proceedings. Other national leaders who have become helpless victims of these tribunals include President Charles Taylor of Liberia, convicted, despite a lack evidence of any criminal wrongdoing, by the ad hoc Sierra Leone tribunal; Prime Minister Jean Kambanda of Rwanda, sentenced to life without the trial he vehemently demanded to have, by the ad hoc Rwanda tribunal; and most recently President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, politically assassinated with his arrest by French forces and his detention for three years at the ICC without any prima facie case being made against him, even to this day.  Indictments have been issued against other national leaders who are in the way of the West, heads-of-State like President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, whose case as been suspended since the ICC now admits that they have no evidence against him. Just recently there was talk in the Western press of charges against President Putin. We all see how absurd and surreal the game has become.

Jean Kambanda, Rwanda            L.Gbagbo, Côte d'Ivoire                  Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya


                           
            Omar al Bashir, Sudan                              Vladimir Putin, Russian Fed


The structural role these tribunals have played in the attempt by Nato to create its New World Order has been analysed and described by distinguished jurists and writers around the world. Since I am not a theorist or a philosopher, but a trial lawyer, I wish to contribute to your understanding of the criminal nature of this international justice machine by relating to you my experience of defending a particular political prisoner held by it. I could tell you about the scandalous practices of the ICTY in the Milosevic trial, a file in which I was involved through his international defence committee, but these are well-known and have been recounted by a number of eminent persons and writers. There are many victims of these tribunals, but I will focus on this one particular case because it stands as an exemplar of the many.

General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, 2000

On January 28, 2000, General Augustin Ndidiliyimana, the former Chief of Staff of the Rwanda gendarmerie and most senior ranking Rwandan military officer in 1994, was arrested in Belgium on the basis of an indictment issued by Carla Del Ponte, then-prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda, the ICTR.  He had fled to Belgium in June 1994 after receiving threats on his life. His entry into Belgium was authorised by the then-Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claeys, later to become the Secretary-General of Nato, who stated at the time that he had saved the lives of many Rwandans.
           Prosecutor Carla del Ponte         Belgian Minister Willy Claeys

It is with the arrest that the criminality begins to appear. It was speculated in the Belgian press at the time that it was for political reasons and, indeed, 11 years later, this speculation was confirmed when the trial judges delivered their judgement.

They stated, in the judgement dated May 17, 2011, the following:[1]


2191.  The Defence submits that Ndindiliyimana’s indictment and arrest “were motivated by political reasons”.3862  The Chamber recalls that before this Chamber, the Defence stated that the Prosecution made every effort to encourage Ndindiliyimana to testify against Colonel Bagosora, but Ndindiliyimana refused.3863  The Prosecution did not deny this.  Following his initial refusal to testify, the Prosecution produced a far-reaching indictment charging Ndindiliyimana with a number of crimes pursuant to Article 6(1) of the Statute.  Most of those charges were eventually dropped.  The Defence further alleges that the Prosecution made repeated offers during the trial to drop the charges against Ndindiliyimana if he would agree to testify against Bagosora, but Ndindiliyimana repeatedly refused.3864


General Ndindiliyimana was considered a political “moderate” during the Rwanda War of 1990-94, a Hutu respected by Tutsis and Hutus alike, and, as attested to by many witnesses including witnesses for the prosecution, his gendarmes did not commit crimes against civilians, but tried to protect them where they could. So why was he arrested?

Because he was a potential leader of the country; because he refused to cooperate with the RPF regime installed by the United States after the war; because he knew too much about what really happened in Rwanda and who was really responsible for the violence; because he knew that UN and American forces, despite Clinton’s denials, were directly involved in the final RPF offensive of April 1994 and the murder of President Habyarimana. All these reasons were no doubt involved in his arrest, but it quickly became clear that the prosecutor used his arrest to pressure him to give false evidence against Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the former deputy minister of defence in Rwanda, who was their primary target, the “big fish” of the prosecution.

Colonel Bagosora, "The Brains behind the Genocide"

The criminal methods used against him began immediately upon his arrest. He and his counsel in Brussels met with two ICTR prosecution staffers who informed him that the indictment was just a formality to give the ICTR jurisdiction over him and that the real reason for his arrest was to accompany them to Arusha, Tanzania, the home of the ICTR, to meet with the prosecutor and be interviewed regarding events in Rwanda. Why this could not be done in Belgium without an indictment was not explained, but, based on these assurances, neither he nor his counsel attempted to use the legal avenues available in Belgium to contest the arrest and extradition. They believed that he faced no jeopardy. The Rules of Procedure require that an accused be shown the indictment on arrest. He was shown nothing. Yet he voluntarily accompanied the ICTR staffers to Tanzania, and, to his surprise, was immediately thrown into prison. Similar tricks were used to kidnap President Milosevic, as we all remember, when the Constitutional Court in Serbia held it was illegal to extradite him to The Hague. Even as they handed down their decision he was being forced onto an RAF plane in chains and dragged before the Nato tribunal, never to see his country again.

In June 2000, Ndindiliyimana contacted me by letter and asked me to be his counsel. I agreed and he submitted my name to the registrar to have me assigned. But their immediate reaction was to try to dissuade him from engaging me, stating that I had no experience and that I could not speak French (he spoke no English), and they attempted to persuade him to take a counsel they preferred. This was a frequent occurrence at the ICTY-R and is now the norm at the ICC. Defence counsel who are seen to be too effective and willing to bring out all the facts and let justice be done though the sky may fall, or, as Kant phrased it, “to let justice reign even if all the rascals in the world should perish from it”, are prevented from representing accused by various means that favour counsel who are either active agents of the Western powers or who will only put up token defences. The few strong ones who are able appear are hampered in every way possible and even thrown in prison, as we recently saw in the Bemba case at the ICC. Nevertheless, Ndindiliyimana persisted, and finally I was allowed to represent him and to meet him later that summer.

The first thing to do, obviously, was to get hold of the indictment and see what the charges were.  But that proved to be very difficult. The indictment was not a simple statement that X is accused of committing crime Y at a certain place and a certain date. It was, instead, a 65 page propaganda tract, signed by Carla Del Ponte, setting out the Rwanda Patriotic Front-American, mass media version of the war, all of it false, all of it meant to prejudice the accused in the eyes of the judges, but,  especially, meant for public consumption and prosecution press releases. In other words, it was pure propaganda, and written as such. The other surprise was that entire lines, sections and even entire pages of the indictment were blacked out, including the names of co-accused. It was so bad that it was impossible to understand if any charges were actually contained in the document or what they were, and, from what we could read, it appeared to offer a complete defence of his actions.


ICTR, Arusha, Tanzania

On his arrival in Arusha the general was not taken immediately before a judge for an initial appearance as required by the ICTR Rules of Procedure. Instead he was held for almost 4 months and did not make his first appearance before the judges of the tribunal until April 28th of that year. The delay was a deliberate tactic meant to soften him up psychologically.  The same tactic was used against other prisoners, one example being Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, who instead of being brought before a judge on arrest was taken to a location hundreds of kilometres from the tribunal, held incommunicado for nine months and threatened by two Canadian police officers every day to make him confess to crimes he had not committed. These same Canadians were later implicated in the murder in 2005 of a member of Kambanda's cabinet, which I will describe later.

When Ndindiliyimana was finally brought before a judge, the lack of a proper indictment was raised by the duty counsel, stating that the accused was being asked to plead to a document that was half blank.  In response, the sitting judge simply said that that was a defect in the form of the indictment and could be rectified later, instead of dismissing the case for lack of an indictment, as he should have done.

Upon my arrival at the tribunal, in July 2000, an American woman approached me in a hallway of the tribunal offices and informed me that she was in charge of the prosecution staff and wanted to talk with me.  She informed me that she was not just a lawyer. She was also a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.  I later learned she was also an agent of the CIA. She asked to meet me the next day to discuss a deal, which was strange considering the charges of genocide they had laid against my client. The next day, about 20 people walked into the meeting room where I was sitting alone. The attempt to intimidate me was clear.  The American Colonel made various proposals for a deal if we agreed to cooperate and testify against Colonel Bagosora, the former deputy minister of Defence.  Our response was that the charges, so far as we could make them out, were false, that we could not accept his arrest and detention as a means of forcing him to give false testimony, and we demanded to have a trial.  As an aside, I heard a number of times in private meetings with UN staffers, some at high levels, that everyone at the tribunal knew the general was a good man and not guilty of anything, but, as one insider told me, that’s the way the Americans “are playing things here”, and to watch my back.


ICTR, Arusha, Tanzania

On my next trip to Arusha, a couple of months later, to argue a motion for his release, I learned that their pressure had increased when I went to the UN Detention unit to meet with him and found that he had “disappeared” from the prison. The UN and Tanzanian guards refused to tell me where he was. It took a day of angry arguing with obstructive officials to find out that he had been transferred to a UN safe house in the town of Arusha.  The excuse given to me was that he was in danger from other prisoners, but, in reality, it was to keep him isolated psychologically, to weaken him, to soften him up, and to discredit him with the other prisoners by making it look like he was “making a deal.”


UN Detention

We demanded that he be taken back to the UN Detention Unit, but all our legal efforts to effect that were useless until I raised the issue in the press and, to avoid further scandal, two days after the press raised the issue, he was returned to the UN prison, where, soon after, he was elected head of the prisoners’ committee.

Over the next 4 years we faced constant obstructions in trying to find out what was going on, what charges he actually faced, what they were going to do and when he was going to have a trial. During this period, repeated offers were made by the prosecutors, but all were refused; our position being simply that his arrest and detention, meant to pressure him into testify, were illegal and immoral, and that he would only cooperate as a free man. 

Demands for a speedy trial were met with shrugs of indifference.  We were not given any relevant disclosure. Instead, the prosecution buried us under thousands of irrelevant documents, which the Registrar refused to pay me to read.  I demanded that the prosecutor disclose all UN and other relevant documents from all the parties to the war, and, in 2003, I finally received several cd-roms with 100,000 documents on them. But there was no index or order to these documents, and so we had to read every single one hoping to find something useful. And once again, they refused to pay any fees for this work. They didn’t want us to read them and thought we never would.  But we did.  Then I began to learn the truth about what had really happened in Rwanda, a truth that was completely opposite to what I had read in the mass media. So, in effect, we never got any disclosure and had to create a defence for what we thought the general charges might be. To compound the problems, we were also refused sufficient investigative missions to locate and meet with witnesses to build our defence.
Neither Fair nor Balanced

We became aware of other methods used to harass and interfere with the defence. Two Irish lawyers found out through sympathetic contacts in the UN security office that our office phone and fax lines were tapped. We learned that at least one defence lawyer was an agent of the Prosecutor. Lawyers noticed they were being followed and hotel rooms were broken into, including those of the same Irish lawyers and my own. This happened to me in both Brussels and Arusha. 

In 2003, a Scottish lawyer, Andrew McCarten, representing another accused at the ICTR, came to see me in Toronto stating he knew all about how the U.S. and CIA controlled the tribunal at every level and that he feared for his life. He was very agitated. He had just arrived from New York, where he had tried to meet with Bill Clinton and had been thrown out of his office. He told me details of the U.S. military and CIA penetration of the tribunal and said he was going to send me documents on even darker things.  The tribunal accused him of financial irregularities and kicked him out. Two weeks late he was dead. The police could find no cause for his car going off a cliff in Scotland. He was Scotland’s foremost military lawyer.


U.S. Intelligence?

On a trip to Arusha just after that I was visited by a Major in American army intelligence, accompanied by an intelligence officer from the American State Department Research Intelligence Bureau who wanted to know what our trial strategy was and what my client’s views were of African politics.


             Louise Arbour         Late Rwandan President Habyarimana

But the defence lawyers were not the only ones who faced problems. In 1997, Louise Arbour ordered an investigation into the shoot-down of the presidential plane, which resulted in the deaths of all on board, including the Hutu Presidents of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana, and Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Rwandan Army Chief of Staff, Deogratias Nsabimana, and the three-man French civilian flight crew. The invading Ugandan-RPF forces and the Americans claimed that Hutu “extremists” shot down the plane.

An Australian lawyer, Michael Hourigan, was assigned to lead the investigation. In due course, he reported to Arbour that his team had determined it was, in fact, the RPF who had shot down the plane with the help of a foreign power.  And the CIA was implicated. Arbour, he stated in an affidavit, seemed enthusiastic when he first informed her by telephone, but when he was summoned to The Hague to meet with her, her attitude totally changed to one of open hostility. He was ordered to hand over his evidence and remove himself from the case.


Michael Hourigan

To this day that file has been kept secret, and no one named in his report has been charged. Fortunately Hourigan filed a report with the UN oversight office, and that report, which details the evidence he had, became available to us and was filed as evidence in the military trials.  In his affidavit of November  27th, 2006, regarding his meeting with Louise Arbour, he states at paragraph 36, “I feel that unknown persons from within the UN leadership, and possibly elsewhere, pressured Judge Arbour to end the National Team's investigations into the shooting down of President Habyarimana.” And at paragraph 38, he refers to the reason he resigned, “…. I felt I could not work for Judge Arbour when, in my view, she acted for personal reasons against the interests of the ICTR, the UN, and the world community which we served.”

So, here we have not only proof of selective prosecution on the part of the prosecutor (only Hutus have been charged, when evidence revealed in the trials of the past 15 years shows the RPF forces are responsible for most of the killings), but also of the active aiding and abetting of a war crime and the obstruction of justice by Louise Arbour, herself, along with those who successfully influenced her into dropping the investigation.  Of course, once she had proved her value as an asset to Washington in this matter, they used her two years later to lay false charges against Slobodan Milosevic. Her reward was a series of lucrative postings to the Supreme Court of Canada, then the UN Human Rights Commission, and now she sits as head of the CIA-linked International Crisis Group.


'Prevent'? Another Soros tax-dodge.

In January 2004, the situation for the defence and the prisoners became so desperate that the defence lawyers organised a strike to protest the political nature of the charges and trials, the selective prosecutions, which gave the Kagame regime complete immunity and a green light to massacre millions of people in Congo, the poor working conditions for the defence, searches of defence counsel when they went to meet with their clients, and the isolation and poor living conditions for the prisoners. The leader of that strike was Jean Degli, a Congolese lawyer based in Paris; an excellent advocate and a strong leader of the defence lawyers’ association. Within a few months of the end of the strike he was also implicated in a financial scandal and forced out from the defence of a senior military officer.  He had to go, and he was gone. Once he left the tribunal, the defence lawyers’ association fell apart and never took any effective action again.


Maître Jean Degli

British and American lawyers would sometimes appear in the prison and announce to several of the accused that they had been appointed their lawyers. But the prisoners had not asked for them, did not know them, did not want them, and became convinced that they were sent in by Western intelligence agencies to control the outcome of the cases. The prisoners themselves created a list of defence lawyers they believed to be working for Western intelligence. Those prisoners unlucky enough to fall prey to these people would always plead guilty to genocide in hope of a lower sentence, when, in fact, there was no credible case against them. They were told they had no choice; that their cases could not be won. Too many fell for that. For those cases the tribunal could not control through friendly counsel, the prosecution tried to insert someone into the defence team to pass on information and to influence defence tactics and strategy.  This was done with our team.  We detected several people who were spying for the prosecution.  It was difficult to trust anyone.

They also sabotaged our team by trying to trap and arrest our lead investigator, a former Rwandan police major and very useful to us in locating witnesses. On the very day he arrived in Arusha, I was informed by a sympathetic official that they intended to arrest him on genocide charges, that his work programme had been suspended, and that I had better get him out of the country. So we had quickly to smuggle him out of Tanzania, at considerable expense, to avoid his arrest or worse.  The charges were patently false, as he had been cleared by UN and Rwandan security  well before he was engaged as our investigator. But the prosecution tactic effectively crippled our defence for over a year, and we were never able to locate an investigator  with his experience and contacts again. To this date, our demands to know why he was charged have met with silence, but it is worth noting that after this episode he was accepted into the Dutch police force, which, after running a complete security check on him, determined he had no involvement whatsoever in the events of 1994.

The pressure increased when the prosecution circulated rumours that indicated they were intending to charge the General’s wife, as well. We all remember how President Milosevic was kept apart from his wife, Mira Markovic, for the same purpose.


Pryor, Geoff, 1944- Danse macabre - Mr & Mrs Milosevic dancing on a pile of human bones, 1999 [picture]


Finally, almost 5 years after the general’s arrest, the trial began in September 2004. To our complete surprise, at the very start of the trial, the prosecutor stood up and filed a brand new indictment containing dozens of new charges including allegations of massacres we had never heard of and personal murders allegedly committed by the General, himself. The accusations were of the worst and most sensational kind. It was clear they were meant to prejudice the accused in the eyes of the judges before the trial had even got going, and, in fact, as we saw in their judgement, many of those charges were dropped without any evidence ever having been presented. It was all a sham.  We protested and demanded a delay to prepare a defence. We were denied and forced to go on, so we had to prepare a defence on the run. At that point I was alone, without co-counsel, as the registrar refused to allow us to have the counsel we wanted. The judges’ attitude from the first day was openly hostile and they refused to allow us to discuss certain issues, or to cross-examine witnesses in the ways we wanted. They openly sided with the prosecutors and sat back and did nothing, as, each day, the prosecutors launched into vicious personal attacks on defence counsel and the accused.

The prosecution witnesses were all Hutu prisoners of the RPF, held without charge for ten years or more, in terrible conditions, many tortured, none of their testimonies agreeing with the statements they had made prior to trial, much of it double- and triple-hearsay. The prosecution never produced any forensic evidence of killings, no photos, videos, no names of victims, no DNA, no documents or orders, no radio intercepts. No RPF officers were called to testify. The only evidence they had came out of the mouths of these Hutu prisoners. Their testimonies were a farce. The judges openly tried to help the prosecution when the witnesses were exposed under cross-examination as being totally scripted.  The prosecution used every dirty trick in the book to obstruct our cross-examinations and to rescue the witnesses as they fell apart in the witness box. Nevertheless, a number of them, once on the stand, had the courage to state that they had been forced to sign statements and to testify falsely in return for release, favours, or to avoid execution. We learned from these witnesses that the Kigali regime had set up schools in the prisons to recruit and train false witnesses, and the judges heard detailed accounts of how witnesses were recruited in these prisons.  And the prosecution staff at the tribunal were involved in this scandal. What the fate of these prisoners was when they returned to Rwanda we do not know, but the fate of those that cross the Rwanda regime is always unpleasant and permanent.

Even the judges, selected and groomed to be hostile to the defence, began slowly to become uncomfortable with what they were hearing and disturbed on learning that all the witness statements disclosed to us were post-dated to the General’s arrest.

We leaned that the judges were given documents to read that were not disclosed to the defence, so we did not know what they were basing decisions on. The judges threatened me and other counsel with arrest if we continued along lines of questioning they didn’t want us to pursue, and there were daily angry confrontations in court between the judges and defence counsel when we tried to protect the rights of the accused and to insist on a fair trial. Throughout the trial, evidence came out that the enemy forces [RPF] had committed mass atrocities against civilians, but instead of the judges asking the prosecution why these forces were not charged they tried to silence us.
Gen. Romeo Dallaire

In 2005, during my cross-examination of a Belgian Army colonel concerning what is known as the Dallaire 'genocide fax', we learned that the translators were reading from scripts prepared by the prosecution instead of translating the actual testimony of the witness. We were shocked and demanded an investigation into how long this practice had been going on and demanded the prosecutors be charged  with obstructing justice. The judges again sat there stone-faced and, despite our demands, nothing happened.


His 'genocide fax'.

It was during this cross-examination that the Dallaire fax was proved to be a forgery that had been placed in UN files by a Colonel in the British Army. But of course the media covering the trial never reported this crucial fact and, to this day, keep referring to the Dallaire fax as an essential document proving there was a planned genocide. But the prosecution was so embarrassed by this revelation that the fax was never again mentioned in any of the trials at the ICTR, and, though it was claimed to be the most important prosecution document in our trial, the prosecution never again raised it. 

In 2006, the prosecution arranged to have the Appeal Chamber make the astounding declaration that the “Genocide” was a judicially-noticed fact, despite its clear denial by the defence, despite contrary evidence in the trials, and despite the fact that the primary charge all the accused faced was genocide. In effect, the tribunal stated the defence could not deny the principal charge against them.

But this didn’t succeed in silencing the defence. We persisted in presenting our defence, despite this decision, and, in our case, at least, the judges gave up fighting with us day after day, and we continued to present the facts.


The late Mme des Forges

In September 2006, the well-known 'expert-witness' for the Prosecution, Dr. Alison Des Forges, testified in our trial and prepared an expert-report for that purpose. The problem was that she removed from that report certain statements she had made in an earlier report, statements that Ndindiliyimana was a man opposed to genocide and had tried to protect civilians.  When she was confronted in cross-examination as to why she had attempted to mislead the judges, she refused to answer the questions.  But it was clear from the reaction of the prosecutors that she had removed those exculpatory statements in an attempt to obstruct justice and did so on the orders of the prosecution. The trial judges took the rare step, in their trial judgement, of censuring Dr. Des Forges for this deceit.


Good night, Sweet Prince Nyetera

In 2007, we witnessed another bizarre scene in which the Judges and prosecutors held a secret meeting on how to eliminate the unwanted testimony of a Tutsi prince.  This son of the last Tutsi king and a well-known personality in Rwanda, Antoine Nyetera, testified that the RPF had done all the killing, that it was not the government, and that he was a witness to it. Not liking the fact a prominent Tutsi was stating that the mass media version of events was false and that the RPF forces the prosecution refused to charge were responsible for most of the killings, the Judges decided, in this secret confab with the prosecutors, to announce in court that they were going to eliminate Prince Nyetera's testimony from the record. When all the defence counsel objected, we were met by a stone wall.  To cover up what they did, the daily minutes for that session were doctored, as well.

We also began to see that transcripts were doctored. We were given draft transcripts each day in the morning, but when we received the final versions, certain words or key phrases were changed to the advantage of the prosecution. Again, complaints went nowhere.  We noticed that we were being surveilled by UN security officers when meeting with witnesses in hotels. This was done quite openly, and the effect was clearly to intimidate us.  It was about this time that 35 of the ICTR detainees wrote to the Security Council stating that they considered themselves to be political prisoners of the United Nations. There was no response to their letter.


Tribunal President Erik Mose

In July 2008, a senior American ICTR official approached me in a café in Arusha and told me he was a CIA officer, that his organizations had murdered others who went too far at the tribunal, and that if I did not stop my defence work they were going to kill me, too. I reported this bizarre conversation to the President of the Tribunal, the Norwegian judge Erik Mose, but again I was met with complete indifference. My client tried to reassure me that they would not actually touch me and were just trying to scare me. This was not the first time such a threat had been made. A member of the Rwandan government approached me at the beginning of the trial, after watching me cross-examine their witnesses, and told me that if I continued I would not have long to live. Complaints to the judges and UN security led nowhere. Tanzanian secret police approached me several times over the years and made similar remarks, and it has not stopped to this day. In July of this year, Canadian intelligence officers came to see me in Toronto to tell me I was on a Rwandan hit list and asked me if I was going to stay active in the Rwandan file. It seemed to me they used this warning of a threat as a way to of making the threat.


Juvenal Uwilingiyimana--his hands taken as 'trophies'?

 In November 2005, Juvenal Uwilingiyimana, a former cabinet minister in Rwanda, who was being interviewed by two Canadian investigators working for Stephen Rapp, then chief of prosecutions at the ICTR, disappeared when he went to meet these investigators in Lille, France. These were the same Canadians who had kept Prime Minister Kambanda incommunicado for nine months to extract a false confession from him. Weeks later, Uwilingiyimana’s body was found in a canal in Brussels, naked, with its hands cut off.  Just before he disappeared he wrote a letter to the tribunal stating that Rapp and his men were pressuring him to give false testimony and that they had threatened to kill him and cut his body into pieces unless he cooperated. I, and other counsel, raised this letter and the murder in court and demanded that the prime suspects in the murder, Stephen Rapp and the two Canadians, be suspended and detained pending an investigation. Nothing was done.  The Belgian police did not investigate, and Rapp was promoted to the position of US roving ambassador for war crimes.


Amb-at-large for War Crimes
Stephen Rapp

In 2008, a prosecution witness in our trial recanted stating that he was forced, under threat of death, to give false testimony. The defence succeeded in getting the judges to order his recall for questioning about it, and he was brought from Rwanda to a UN safe house in Arusha. The day before he was to testify, he disappeared from that safe house and has not been seen since. The UN could not explain how he could disappear from one of their safe houses. Another prosecution witness recanted stating the same thing, but in this case the prosecution accused me of bribing him. Two investigations concluded he was telling the truth, which included the fact that a prosecution counsel was involved in suborning perjury.

At about the same time, an RPF military intelligence officer who had fled the regime testified that all the sections of the tribunal had been penetrated by Western and RPF intelligence officers, that the translators all worked for Rwandan intelligence, and that the judges were seen as useful puppets.

In fact, we noticed the presence several times during the trial of American army officers and senior members of the American Department of Justice sitting with the prosecutors. When we found out who they were, we demanded that they be ejected, and the judges were forced to order them removed from the courtroom.  During the short cross-examination we were permitted of General Dallaire, by video link from Canadian Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, the cameraman made the mistake of pulling back from the close-up shot of the Dallaire’s face and torso to a wide-angle shot and we were shocked to see five senior Canadian Army officers sitting next to him, this after we had been told he was alone in the room with the technician and a court official. When we demanded to know who they were and who had given them orders to be there, they refused to answer, and the judges refused to order their removal. It was clear that the Canadian government was afraid of Dalllaire's revealing the Canadian role in the breakdown of the peace, the assassination of President Habyarimana and others, and the mass killings that followed.


Kagame & Museveni--sires of "Plan Zaire"

In 2008, I found hidden in prosecution files a letter from Paul Kagame, dated August 1994, containing reference to his and President Museveni’s  “plan for Zaire,” and in which he stated that the Hutus are in the way of that plan, but, with the help of the Americans, British and Belgians, the plan could go ahead. I raised this letter in court the next day, as it indicated that the war in Rwanda was just the first phase of a greater war in the Congo that had been planned probably as far back as 1990. The prosecution immediately accused me of forging this document, even though it came from their files, and that night I was openly followed by a Tanzanian police detective. I was forced to ask the judges for protection the next day.  They insisted that I be left alone. It is worth noting that attached to that letter was a report by USAID official Robert Gersony to the UN High Commission For Refugees stating that the RPF forces had committed widespread and systematic massacres of Hutu civilians beginning in April 1994 and continuing to the date of the report, October 1994. It is also worth noting that stamped on the report was a note from one UNHCR official to another stating that this report must be kept confidential. This exculpatory evidence, shamefully hidden by the UN, had been in the hands of the prosecution for years and illegally kept from us.

In 2011, despite the overwhelming evidence that Augustin Ndindiliiyimana had done all he could to save lives and to restore peace to Rwanda and that he was innocent of all the charges, the judges convicted him for failing to punish subordinates for two alleged crimes, though they acquitted him of all the substantive charges and ordered his release. The convictions were absurd on their face, as one of the alleged incidents had never occurred and, in the other, his men were not involved. 

When the Appeal Chamber threw out those convictions on February 7, 2014, I learned from an inside source that the senior judge told him that the judges felt they had to convict the General of something, despite his clear innocence, because they were afraid of the consequences from the Americans if they acquitted. It was also speculated by a number commentators that they had to justify his long, illegal detention. As an aside, the day after the conviction was announced, I was surprised to receive an email from the American woman, the Colonel, who had first dealt with the case in 2000 and offered to cut us a deal. She is now a high official in the US State Department. She stated that she was angry that Ndindiliyimana had been convicted, that things were never meant to go that far, and that, if ever I was in Washington, she would tell me what was really behind everything. But I have not gone to Washington and we have never met.

I have tried to give you a window into how these show trials are run, how it actually works at these tribunals. Each trial has its own stories to tell. It is a very depressing and dark picture overall. It was a very bitter experience.  There is not much more I can say except that it seems to me that international justice worthy of the name cannot exist without an international order that is democratic; a world order in which the sovereignty and equality of nations is fundamental. Law and its legal structures reflect the social, economic and political relations of a society. To rebuild the legal architecture of international justice so that it is fair, impartial and universal, we first have to change the fundamental economic, social and power relations that are its foundation.  Without this, mankind will continue down the path of reaction and war, and the list of victims of these truly criminal tribunals will grow longer, and the victims-list of an eventual world war will include all of us.  How is this to be done? I leave that to you.

Mon Général Ndindiliyimana--Back in Belgium






[1] This is the original paragraph number as issued on the date of judgement and as used in the appeal documents. It now appears on the ICTR website in the trial judgement of Case 00-56-T as paragraph 2190.

Monday, September 15, 2014

[Part 18] Cote d'Ivoire, The Coup d'État, by Charles Onana, Chapter 16.--The End.


[Part 18, Chapter 16, is the finale.  The image we are left with, after this long discussion of the corrosive effects of Western policies on any remaining tendencies in Africa toward Independence or true Democracy, as expressed by this Coup d'État in Côte d'Ivoire, is of a brutally murdered old Libyan Revolutionary and the mythomaniacal American shrike who 'clasped her hands and shrieked with ecstacy' at the news of his gruesome death--and she's still threatening to offer herself as the next US president.--mc]

{In the Scheveningen prison, used in the 1940’s by the Gestapo, sits an African head-of-State: President Laurent Gbagbo: duly elected by the people of Ivory Coast in 2000; in 2011, after his November 2010 re-election was contested by opponent Alassane Outtara, he was overthrown in a coup arranged by the West, particularly by France and the USA; and, in April of that year, he was placed under arrest by French troops. He now languishes in the concrete cells of the International Criminal Court [ICC] in The Hague. First dragged before the ICC in November 2011, he has not yet gone to trial. In keeping with the Kafkaesque legal procedures at the ICC, the hearing to confirm that there was sufficient evidence to charge him and proceed to trial was not held until March 2013.  No surprise to those who know the facts, the judges at the ICC found the prosecutor had failed to present sufficient evidence to establish the charges.

But, instead of immediately releasing President Gbagbo, the judges ordered that his detention continue while the prosecutor tried to come up with some kind of evidence. Such a ruling in any common law or civil law system in the world would be seen as blatantly political—its purpose, to keep Laurent Gbagbo out of Ivory Coast politics for as long as possible.

Finally, more than a year later, on June 12, 2014, the ICC, based solely on hearsay evidence, confirmed the charges and ordered the Ivorian President to stand trial. In their decision, the judges did not once mention the principal role of French forces in the violence that took place.  However, one honest judge, Hon. Christine Van den Wyngaert, in her dissent, stated emphatically, "I am unable to join my colleagues in their decision to confirm the charges.... I am of the view that the evidence is still insufficient…. There is a considerable quantitative increase in the evidence submitted by the Prosecutor.... However, the previously identified problem regarding reliance on anonymous hearsay remains." She then found that, even taken at its highest, the prosecution had failed to meet the standard required, and that the evidence they had presented could not reasonably result in a conviction at trial.

The Prosecutor of the ICC is a former prosecutor at the Rwandan War Crimes Tribunal [ICTR] in Arusha, Tanzania, where it was standard practice to charge first and then concoct evidence later. We can see that these same extra-legal methods are being used at the ICC, and that in actuality we are observing the criminalization of International Justice. For those who wish to know why Laurent Gbagbo, Simone Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are being held in the ICC prison, Charles Onana's comprehensive and dramatic account of the events in Ivory Coast is essential reading.  One can only hope that people around the world will wake up and stand up to call for justice for these political prisoners before their leaders, too, fall victim to what can only be described as “judicial fascism."

—Christopher Black, International Defense Counsel} 

          Élysée Palace, Paris                  White House, Washington, DC

16.

The awkward silence of the African leaders
African Union                                        CEDEAO

    Just before the coup d’État against the Ivorian president, it was as if the other African leaders were paralyzed by the incessant political pressures from France and the United States.  Some even believed that they had to seem hostile toward Laurent Gbagbo to better hold on to the attention of Paris and Washington.  No one dared clearly take a dissident position at the table where the fate of Côte d’Ivoire was being decided.  Just like “good, disciplined soldiers” and concerned with respecting the established order, the African leaders seemed to dread any thought that might contradict the Élysée or the White House.  Worse still, the main regional organizations, the African Union and the CEDEAO, regularly embraced then cosigned the positions of France and the U.S., both declared adversaries of the Ivorian regime.  This was a attitude that seemed out of line with the majority of Africans who did not understand the silence of their leaders in the face of this aggression against Côte d’Ivoire.  At this time, we spoke out against the bad judgment and the lack of political courage on the part of the African leaders.[1]

    It was in 1999 that we met with a high functionary of the World Bank in Washington.  Obviously well informed, he confided to us over lunch that if Mr. Alassane Ouattara did not become president of Côte d’Ivoire, there would be “fire in the country.”  At that time, we did not understand the exact meaning of those words.  A little later, there was the coup d’État by the Ivorian officer Robert Guéï and then a political crisis, the turbulent elections and the arrival to power of Laurent Gbagbo in 2000.  Côte d’Ivoire, since that time, has experienced incessant tensions and a war, at once overt and dormant, between the rebel forces close to Ouattara and the government forces of Laurent Gbagbo.  In April 2011, all this culminated in a coup d’État against Laurent Gbagbo and the arrival to power of Alassane Ouattara.  In ten years, not only has the promise of this high functionary been realized, but the cost to the Ivorian people has been very heavy.


    What is dangerous today is not the words of World Bank officials from 1999 or the role played by certain of Côte d’Ivoire’s neighbors, but the servile alignment of the Africans, themselves, through the African Union and the CEDEAO, behind the Élysée and the White House.   This is regrettable behavior on the part of these African institutions who pretend to represent sovereign States. 

    To take sides with one candidate, without taking any basic precautions, was very imprudent for the African Union and the CEDEAO.  To support the choice of Alassane Ouattara in a contentious domestic election under the pretext that “he is favored by the International Community” is not, to be sure, very “democratic” and even less “judicious.”  Who among the African leaders to take up a position in this way, either within the CEDEAO or the African Union, could claim to have won elections that were completely transparent and without known fraud?  How many were set up and legitimized while their opponents, laid low by the magnitude of the fraud, did not understand the silence of the representatives of the European Union and the other foreign observers present in their country?  How many African and Western observers have told us of having been complicit in or impotent witnesses to organized treachery during presidential elections in Central and West Africa?  Of all these chiefs-of-State, how many were defeated by electoral fraud or for not respecting the outcome of elections?

    It seems clear that the true motives of the pro-Ouattara campaign were willfully hushed up to focus on all the dubious arm waving over respect for “electoral legality.”  If this kind of charade becomes the norm, there is a real fear that West Africa will find itself, in the long run, ruled by the militias and “rebels” and other puppets of foreign interests, just like in Central and East Africa today.  This process, which has been in play since the early 90s, will gradually spread in various forms throughout a large part of the continent if Africans continue to doze off under their beautiful sun.

    To overlook the question of control over the wealth of Côte d’Ivoire and the reasons for two attempted coups d’État in the country in 2002 and 2004 is to pretend to have forgotten the reasons for the creation of a rebellion in this same country, to develop a selective amnesia about the role played by neighboring countries in supporting the Ivorian rebellion, financing and arming it, to willfully ignore all the pressures exerted to bring about organized elections in a country that had been cut in two, with one part controlled by rebels and the other by the national army, to blow off all of this is to refuse to understand the reality of “The New World Order.”  To choose political autism with regard to the Ivorian crisis is to turn one’s back on the future and willingly force Africans into a perpetual submission to the law of the gun, to instability, to political banditry, to chronic insecurity and systematic pillaging.

    To say this is neither defeatist nor fatalistic.  It is simply an attempt to bring a little insight to the new threats that are being posed against all African countries whose resources are coveted by the West and certain interest groups.  The Ivorian case has reduced all honest observers to skepticism on hearing the agreeable discussions about good governance, the respect of Human Rights, electoral transparency and other noble concepts.

    Unlike the people who often quickly get the gravity of things, some leaders still affect a free-flowing casualness toward the threats that weigh on their countries and their governments.  They still believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are in control of their situations.  This incredible lightness of being also explains the lack of understanding that they often have as to what is at stake and what are the real intentions of their enemies or their own collaborators.  If some of them are able to understand these various machinations, their responses remain, at the very least, subject to suspicion.

    But let’s get back to some essential points of this discussion.  While we are talking about the servility of the CEDEAO and the African Union toward the positions of certain Western countries, our analysis is, on this specific point, corroborated by that of an African observer well up on the electoral problem in Côte d’Ivoire.  He is Mr. Joseph Kokou Koffigoh, the former Togolese Prime Minister and head of the observer mission of the African Union at the time of the Ivorian presidential elections.  Here is what he said to an African journalist questioning him on the post-electoral crisis:

Joseph Kokou Koffigoh of Togo

    “The African Union has set up a panel of five presidents to talk about the Ivorian crisis, with an eye toward creating “binding propositions” for both the camps of Ouattara and Gbagbo.  How will this panel come up with something other than more of the same old same old?
    —Koffigoh:  The decision of the African Union to authorize five presidents to sort out Côte d’Ivoire is good, on the condition that the chiefs-of-State go to Abidjan without taking sides, that is to say, with a concern for proposing solutions acceptable to both parties.  I don’t really understand the term “binding propositions” in this case.  The binding would have to have been in play for the past eight years for the rebellions to be curbed, instead of the complaisance we have seen with the red carpet being rolled out for those who took up arms against their own country and scorned the agreements, pacts and protocols of the African Union and the CEDEAO.
    —Didn’t the African Union contradict itself by setting up this panel while completely “recognizing the victory of Alassane Ouattara” in the second round of the presidential elections of 28 November 2010?
    —The contradiction is flagrant.  The African Union, with it bias, erected an obstacle to itself on the road to resolving the crisis by establishing “the victory” of Alassane Dramane Ouattara as a fact.  The wisest strategy would have been to evaluate the post-election crisis both from the point of view of the facts alleged by the two camps and in the light of Ivorian Constitutional law.  The African Union acted like a judge who has decided on his verdict before the trial has even started.  And there lies a problem.
    —You were the head of the observer mission of the African Union to this presidential election.  In this capacity, what proposal for a lasting way out of this crisis will you be putting on the table?
    —The declaration by the observers from the African Union was adopted unanimously by the delegates.  It recommends that possible disputes over the results be submitted to authorities created for this eventuality.  Should this occur, it is the Constitutional Council that is supposed to resolve these electoral claims as a last resort.  Laurent Gbagbo addressed himself to the Constitutional Council, as did Alassane Dramane Ouattara.  Ouattara petitioned the Council to validate his oath of office, which he had taken in writing, but the Council found it unacceptable:  so much for the law.  But since there was a problem, it was necessary for all the protagonists to act simultaneously to reach an agreement and get the country out of this impasse.  Until now, the pressure has been unilateral and applied in violation of the sovereignty of Côte d’Ivoire.  Mr. Gbagbo offered an evaluation of the process.  I do not believe that is so difficult to admit or to do. (. . .)
    —Many of your countrymen, within the framework of this Ivorian presidential election, remember the image of you at the swearing in ceremony for Laurent Gbagbo.  Was this the wisest position for the Prime Minister to adopt, right in the middle of the controversy, even if your Observer Mission was finished?
    —The Observer Mission was over.  The electoral dispute meaningless, and the Ivorian Constitution anticipated only a short time for the swearing in.  I was invited to the ceremony.  I could not support those who chose to destabilize Côte d’Ivoire by calling into question a sovereign decision made by the Constitutional Council of an independent State. (. . .)
    —Thabo Mbeki, the first African Union mediator in the Ivorian crisis, recommended in his definitive report that Ouattara and Gbagbo be persuaded to accept the way of dialogue.  Were Ouattara and Gbagbo, themselves, fundamentally opposed to this or was it rather their respective entourages that did not want peace in Côte d’Ivoire?
    —What you just said was the subject of a conversation between Thabo Mbeki and myself, while he was in Abidjan, the day after Laurent Gbagbo was sworn in.  President Mbeki told me that Mr. Gbagbo was ready to discuss, but that Alassane Ouattara was intransigent because he had the support of the International Community.  Here’s the problem.  If the pressure had been exerted on both parties, instead of the situation that we know, dialogue could have been initiated and might have led to a way out of the crisis.  So I don’t think that it was a question of the entourages.  It was the International Community that aggravated the crisis. (. . .)”

    Let’s hold on just the first point Mr. Koffigoh brought up:  the panel of five African chiefs-of-State.  He speaks with tact about contradictions in the decision by the African Union.  We could instead speak of cowardice and the incapability of the African Union to assume its duty as a regional organization.  And here is the proof.

    We obtained different very confidential reports from the ONUCI, which testify to the way in which the African Union was perceived and treated by the handpicked panel of five African leaders chosen for the Ivorian case.  A classified report from the ONUCI from 10 February 2011 says this, for example:

    “The designation by the African Union of a ‘high-level panel’ is questionable because it came out of real confusion, and error excepted, it makes the following observation:
    —The African Union, the majority of which is made up of heads-of-State who were poorly elected or came to power by force of arms (there were three on the panel), has never made a firm decision that had definitive effects on any kind of case.  Quite the opposite, these chiefs-of-State, often stick together because they are likely to share the same behavior, always get rid of those of their own people who take actions similar to those of Laurent Gbagbo.
    —Along the same lines, the heads-of-State, probably confused, chose by way of this panel to worsen the situation and just call it even, so when the time came they could get rid of this Ivorian matter and leave things as they found them.  So, the ONUCI and the United Nations lost some serious face in what could be called the Ivorian tragi-comedy.” 

    Here is, in a few words, what the intelligence analysts at the ONUCI thought of the African Union.  What is most serious is that before the panel came to Côte d’Ivoire, they were given a road map for imposing Alassane Ouattara at the head of the country.

    In a confidential report from 18 February 2011 by the ONUCI, three proposals were made to the panel of chiefs-of-State before meeting President Laurent Gbagbo.  It was above all a question of making him accept the desiderata of the Western Powers that insisted:

    “1- Alassane Ouattara is president of the Republic, it is demanded that Laurent Gbagbo leave power, with assurances, the lifting of international sanctions (freezing of assets, travel restrictions . . .), immunity from legal prosecution, the recognition of his position as former chief-of-State with all the privileges that entails.  2- Alassane Ouattara is president of the Republic, and Laurent Gbagbo is vice-president, with specific powers including standing in for the Chief in his absence.  3- Alassane Ouattara is the president and Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié are members of the High Council of the Republic.”

    So the panel came to Abidjan with the indisputable idea that Mr. Ouattara is president of the Republic and that Laurent Gbagbo must play a background role in a previously determined organization.  This untenable situation showed the total absence of power from the African Union in the face of major political questions concerning the destinies of millions of Ivorians.  Despite the irresponsibility of the African Union, its representative, Mr. Koffigoh, demonstrated some political courage and dialed up the provocation by attending the inauguration of President Laurent Gbagbo, thus creating embarrassment and ill will within the African Union.  Being mere employees, afraid of being reprimanded by their corporate superiors in the West, the officials of the African Union reacted by publishing a communiqué which said a great deal about their state of mind:

    “The Commission of the African Union (AU) was informed of the presence of Mr. Joseph Kokou Koffigoh, former Prime Minister of Togo and head of the electoral Observer Mission sent by the AU for the second round of the presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire, at the ceremony for the swearing in of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo, which took place today, 4 December 2010.  The Commission would like to point out that Mr. Koffigoh was not representing the African Union, which in no way endorsed this individual action.”

    How can a continental organization enhance its prestige with Africans by giving the impression that it fears the reactions of the West in cases that, in appearance, come under its exclusive authority and even its discretionary power?  Who could imagine the European Union fearing to make decisions about a member-State, including those concerning African immigration, for example, because of the wrath of African leaders?  How can the African Union pretend to make sovereign decisions by constantly utilizing the great divide between the political positions of some Western countries and the political reality in Africa?  By all evidence, the credibility of the African Union—just like that of the CEDEAO—was very ceremonious in the Ivorian crisis.  From a look at the facts, the African Union showed its deficiencies and its lack of autonomy, a reality that many informed observers already knew.

    In Brussels, the representatives of African States to the European Union were just like their leaders.
    Guided by fear and their “eternal” inferiority complex, the ambassadors meeting in the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), ratified, without the slightest hesitation, every decision taken by the European Union and “the International Community” against President Gbagbo.  Undermined by instances of corruption and the misappropriation of public funds[2], the group of ACP was incapable of promoting respect for the basic principles of the electoral process in Côte d’Ivoire.  However, in a note from his secretary on “the situation in Côte d’Ivoire,” dated 26 January 2011, there is this conclusion:

    “The crisis that runs through Côte d’Ivoire is a serious and worrying crisis that has already had dramatic consequences for the country.  It could have repercussions in other West African States and in the whole of the African continent where fifteen popular consultations are scheduled over the course of the year 2011.  It should be recalled that a number of African countries were weakened by recent internal tensions.  The way in which the Ivorian crisis is resolved will most certainly have a significant impact on the handling of elections in Africa, but also in the ACP area in general.  The Group ACP must get actively involved right away in the search for a speedy and lasting resolution to this emergency.”

    After this laudable analysis, did the ambassadors of the ACP finally take up their responsibilities as they were invited to do in this note?  Alas, no!  We discovered this while going through their proposed declaration of 26 January 2011.  In this document entitled, “Declaration of the Committee of ACP Ambassadors on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire,” the authors wrote:

    “The Committee of ambassadors of the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, having examined, in the course of its 836th session held on 27 Janaury 2011, the political situation that has existed in Côte d’Ivoire since the announcement of the results of the second round of the presidential elections, held on 28 November 2010; (. . .) ratifies the decisions of the UN, the joint ACP-European Union Parliamentary Assembly, the African Union, the CEDEAO and the European Union to recognize the results announced by the Independent Electoral Commission of Côte d’Ivoire, as certified by the representative of the UN Secretary General, in accordance with Resolution 1765 (2007) of the UN Security Council of 16 July 2007; recognizes Mr. Alassane Ouattara as the legitimate president of Côte d’Ivoire, in conformity with the free choice expressed by the Ivorian people; demands that Mr. Laurent Gbagbo respect the results of the election and immediately cede power to Mr. Alassane Ouattara, the democratically elected president.”

    In the final version of 28 January 2011, the last two points have disappeared.  An absence of political courage or willful servility?  With this miserable situation, we could not avoid analyzing the problem of protecting the Ivorian people before their descent into hell.  Everyone noticed that the protection of the Ivorian population was never a priority, not during nor after the fall of President Gbagbo.  The mass killings perpetrated by the pro-Ouattara rebels, the targeted murders  of high Ivorian officials and pro-Gbagbo militants, the indescribable looting in Abidjan and in different cities of the country, only confirm the look and the implantation of a terrorist power in Côte d’Ivoire.  The Ivorians, who had previously only expressed their hostility toward the out-going president, discovered in stupefied agitation the brutality of the new regime.  Since the independence of Côte d’Ivoire in 1960, Abidjan has never known such a tidal wave of violence.  It is undeniable that Alassane Ouattara’s conquest and seizure of power mark a decisive turning point in the political culture for the next leaders of this country.

    The final point to be entered as evidence in our analysis is the phenomenon of the epidemic spread of political instability in West Africa, or just in Africa as one entire continent.  Two countries, one with a hostile attitude toward the government of Laurent Gbagbo and the other holding a position in conformity with that of the African Union, were shaken by the forces of destabilization.  These two nations were Burkina Faso and Libya.  The first supported and trained the pro-Ouattara rebels, while the second aligned itself with the West.  A few days after the fall of President Gbagbo, the Burkinabé chief-of-State, Blaise Compaoré quickly left his home in Ouagadougou fearing violent action on the part of unhappy elements of his army.  In Tripoli, a military action by the French Army, officially led by NATO, was launched against the regime of Colonel Muammar al-Khadafi.

The late Colonel al-Khadafi

    Their lack of solidarity with the Côte d’Ivoire of Laurent Gbagbo does not bode well for Africans.  Worse still, it led to what would ostensibly be mistakes during a meeting of the African Union, the African leaders, as was shown in the arrogant and vulgar speech of American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, delivered on 13 June 2011, just two months after the fall of Laurent Gbagbo.  On that day, Mrs. Clinton addressed the African leaders in these terms: 


Mrs. Clinton on Col. al-Khadafi:  
We came, we saw, he died. [laughter]

    . . . [W]e do know that too many people in Africa still live under longstanding rulers, men who care too much about the longevity of their reign, and too little about the legacy that should be built for their country’s future. Some even claim to believe in democracy – democracy defined as one election, one time.”

    After speaking these words, the U.S. Secretary of State was applauded by the audience.  Is it not a strange reaction from these African leaders to applaud their critic?!  Some might reply that the words Hillary Clinton spoke were true.  For sure!  But, how many of those African leaders who bully, torture and impoverish their people are supported by the United States?  How many African leaders known for their longevity in power and for their scorning of multi-party elections have the Americans propped up and defended?  The examples are legion and still on the evening news.

    With the Africans applauding at this kind of speech, one is entitled to wonder if they were awakened by, if they, indeed, understood the sense of, Hillary Clinton’s words.  She told them:

    “The United States pledges its support for those African nations that are committed to doing the difficult but rewarding work of building a free, peaceful, and prosperous future. And we look to institutions like the African Union, that are dedicated to democracy and good governance, to continue to encourage countries to walk that path or risk isolating themselves further.”

Taking advantage of this African pulpit, the American representative dictated to the Africans just what they would have to do:

    “Qadhafi must leave power. . . . I urge all African states to call for a genuine ceasefire and to call for Qadhafi to step aside. I also urge you to suspend the operations of Qadhafi’s embassies in your countries, to expel pro-Qadhafi diplomats, and to increase contact and support for the Transitional National Council. . . .”


Franco-American diplomacy at work.

    It is difficult to believe that freedom and democracy are suitably expressed in these words.  Apparently, African leaders are used to these kinds of humiliating lectures and are familiar with this kind of offensive interlocutor.  Nailed into their easy chairs by the fear of Western military intervention, the African leaders resolved to keep a low profile.  How many among them really thought they could escape these brutal methods?  Blaise Compaoré, one of the zealous servants of the initiatives to destabilize Côte d’Ivoire, had seriously to consider just what fate awaited him after having spent nearly thirty years as the head of his country without holding free and transparent elections.
Far from any inferiority complex, a few African countries have, nonetheless, taken courageous positions.  Countries like Angola and Gambia.  The former, while completely respecting diplomatic courtesy, has consistently rejected Western pressures to impose Alassane Ouattara as leader of Côte d’Ivoire[3], while the latter officially refused to recognize him as head-of-State.  These countries also testify to the hope that another way is possible and desirable for the political future of African States.



[1]  Cf. Le Potentiel of 30 December 2010.
[2]  Cf. Onana, Charles, Ces tueurs tutsi au cœur de la tragédie congolaise, Duboiris, Paris, 2009, 320pp.
[3] The Angolan government sent a note to the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) in Brussels on 30 December 2010. The Angolan authorities said they were concerned about the speed with which the International Community had taken extreme and radical measures against the candidate Laurent Gbagbo and was shocked by its refusal to consider the requests made by Gbagbo concerning electoral fraud.