Chilling message to war criminals is warning for Mugabe

New report looks at options for holding President to account



The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court sent a chilling message to war criminals around the world last week when he requested an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his cronies are almost certainly paying close attention.

A report released jointly today by the ENOUGH Project and Impunity Watch examines the legal options available to hold Mugabe and others to account for a list of crimes committed during his rule of nearly three decades – from the massacre of 20,000 Ndebele civilians in the early 1980s to the post-election crackdown against the political opposition.

“Justice for Zimbabwe should be approached under the combined efforts of a hybrid international tribunal, or a domestic court with international assistance and support,” says David M. Crane, co-author of the report, Professor at Syracuse University College of Law, and former founding Chief Prosecutor of The Special Court for Sierra Leone.

“The longer Mr Mugabe abuses the power of the state and thwarts the legitimate and democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe to express their rights, the more the question of accountability gains traction,” says ENOUGH Executive Director John Norris. “The question of justice in Zimbabwe should ultimately be a question of when, not if.” 

The report says: “There are numerous legal, political and diplomatic options available to the international community which include doing nothing to the creation of a justice mechanism by which Mugabe would be held accountable for alleged domestic and international crimes committed while President of Zimbabwe.

“Based on the extant facts and circumstances,” the report continues, “Mugabe could either be tried by a hybrid international war crimes tribunal or an internationalized domestic court. The location should be in Harare or within the region. The International Criminal Court has limited jurisdiction as the gravamen of the offenses took place prior to July 2002.

“The mandate should be prosecuting either Mugabe himself alone or those who bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes committed in Zimbabwe, to include Mugabe and selected henchmen. The facts will bear out who those possible indictees are.”

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