Civil societies across Africa want AU to support ICC

Civil Society groups from across Africa want AU to support the International Criminal Court as a crucial court of last resort.

The groups from 34 African countries are calling on ICC African members to reaffirm their support for the ICC in the upcoming extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa scheduled for October 11 and 12, 2013.

The relationship between the ICC and Africa has soured as the Kenya cases have progressed leading to accusation that the court is primarily and unfairly targeting Africa. Consequently, this has led to questions over whether some African ICC members may withdraw from the ICC’s treaty, the Rome Statute.

The push comes at a time when Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President William Ruto are facing trial for crimes alleged to have been committed in the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

“South Africa and other Southern Africa Development Community members should press the AU to work to expand the reach of justice, not cripple it,” said Angela Mudukuti, International Criminal Justice Programme Project Lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Center.

Botswana has been a proponent of the ICC in the face of recent attacks on the court. Lesotho expressed strong support for the ICC in its September statement to the UN General Assembly.

However, many African countries have remained silent over the issue. Mauritius has also adopted legislation in 2011 to implement the ICC’s treaty domestically putting it in a strong position to reaffirm its support for the ICC at the Addis Ababa summit.

“Nigeria and Ghana both acknowledged the ICC as a crucial court of last resort, and are thus well placed to play a positive leadership role at the summit,” said Chinonye Obiagwu, National Coordinator at Nigeria’s Legal Defense and Assistance Project.

President John Drimana Mahama of Ghana told France24 after an AU summit meeting in May, “I think the ICC has done an amazing job in bringing some people who have committed genocide and mass murder to justice.”

Africans are also among the highest-level ICC officials with some serving as judges and prosecutors. African governments have also sought the ICC to try grave crimes committed on their territories.

“Five African states asked the ICC to investigate crimes committed in their countries-Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Central African Republic, Mali and Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Georges Kapiamba, president of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice.-nation.co.ke

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