Putin’s ICC arrest warrant and the West’s hypocrisy

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a visit to a military base in Ryazan region, Russia. PHOTO | COURTESY

The International Criminal Court announced that they had issued a warrant of arrest for a certain Vladmir Putin. Now, it happens the said Putin is the president of Russia.

Save for Ukraine (as the aggrieved party), there was muted (or actually none) excitement about the warrant of arrest for a sitting president of a world power like Russia. It even sounds eerie.

On September 2 2020, the United States of America declared Fatouma Bensouda (chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court) as an SDN (specially designated national).  The declaration forbade all US persons and companies from doing business with her. This SDN, contained in EO (executive order) No. 13928 signed by President Donald Trump, was revoked by the Joe Bidden administration on April 2, 2021. In a statement issued on the matter, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the previous sanctions regime as “inappropriate and ineffective.”

However, the US government maintained that it “will continue strongly opposing any International Criminal Court’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations. The US stand remains and always has been that its officials and soldiers are outside the jurisdiction of the ICC.” Duh!

Everyone with a cursory interest in international public affairs would be familiar with how the US undermined the UN to justify what was later to be the disastrous invasion of Iraq. The US used fake intelligence to justify the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. Thereafter, the US (and its European sidekicks) bombed Iraq, indiscriminately destroying civilian infrastructure, lives and livelihoods. And boy, 15 years later, there were no WMD.

The US has weaponised global systems and institutions in their weird foreign policy projection. The excitement or an endorsement of the ICC’s warrant of arrest for Putin unexplainable. How can the US be excited by a warrant of arrest issued by the ICC for a sitting president when the said US would not allow the same International Criminal Court to touch a US army sergeant? As someone put it on Facebook, Western hypocrisy is only exceeded by Western hypocrisy!

Indeed, what do you expect from people who frown at polygamy but support homosexuality to the hilt. Hypocrisy!

The Parliament of Uganda has just passed a Bill aimed at fighting what is viewed as an unnatural sexual engagement. In the general, Ugandans, like most Africans, are opposed to homosexuality (or find homosexuality offensive).

Whereas one may appreciate the socio-moral justification for that legislation, one may need to appreciate that this is a very hard fight. Get it from me: even with the overwhelming parliamentary (and popular) support for the Bill, Presidential assent may not come easy. Let us see.

I know it is difficult to understand popular opinion in Uganda on the matter from the angle of human rights. What I know is that Ugandans are weary of laws. Any interaction with the state leaves one bruised. Be it civil like traffic enforcement or other. Why? Because Ugandans have come to the realisation that all laws (even good and well-intentioned ones) are prone to misuse and abuse by the state.

In the euphoria of Parliament’s successful passing of the Bill, it is difficult to appreciate that such a law could be used as a political weapon. And there are testimonies like that of Malaysia. If an opposition politician can be charged with rape in the middle of a campaign, what would stop the government from accusing a political opponent of being homosexual (under the law)? And by the time the said political opponent gets over it, he or she would have been finished (as Kampalans say).