Mugabe = Crimes Against Humanity?

A story in today's National Post caught my eye and got me thinking. I can't find a link to the Post story, but here's The Telegraph's version.

Australia - a country that I have come to admire more and more in recent years - has asked the United Nations' Security Council to to refer "President" Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to the ICC for prosecution for crimes against humanity. Apparently, such a step would be necessary because Zimbabwe does not "attorn" (ie, accept automatically) the jurisdiction of the ICC.

A part of me is in total agreement with this, leaving aside the fact that my respect for the UN as an institution has fallen significantly in recent years. Mugabe has not only tried to crush almost any civil liberty you could name, but his policies have turned a nation that had the potential to be an African leader into an economic and agricultural basket case.

Indeed, as the story in The Telegraph indicates, Mugabe's government has just brought in a whole new series of laws which will, amongst other things, bar access to the courts for farmers whose lands are "appropriated" by "war veterans" while increasing the punishment for those who dare criticise it.

Quite frankly, Zimbabwe would likely be much better off if Mugabe and his cronies were sent off, post haste.

However, I still have some hesitation in using the ICC to try Mugabe for "crimes against humanity". When I think of that term, images such as the Holocaust come to mind. A trial for crimes against humanity is just about as serious a step as can be taken against a national leader short of going to war against him or her. The question I have is, has Mugabe's behaviour - as reprehensible as it is - crossed the line?

I'm still wrestling with this one. Right now - as I type this - I would say, on balance, "yes it has", but it isn't an easy call to make, and a good argument against it may well be enough to persuade me otherwise.

Again - for the record - my hesitation is not a result of me trying to belittle what Mugabe and his government has done. I simply do not want the ICC, or the concept of trying and punishing those guilty of "crimes against humanity", to be diminished.

What do you think? The comments section is open.

More later.


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