130 Groups Across Africa Call for Countries to Back ICC
Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) today joined 130 groups from across Africa calling on African members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in a letter made public today to affirm support for the court at an extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU). The meeting is scheduled for October 11 and 12, 2013, in Addis Ababa.
AU Summit Should Support Court, Including Kenya Cases
(Freetown, October 7, 2013) – 130 groups from across Africa called on African members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in a letter made public today to affirm their support for the court at an extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU). The meeting is scheduled for October 11 and 12, 2013, in Addis Ababa.
The groups, from 34 countries, said African countries should support the ICC as a crucial court of last resort, including for its current cases on crimes committed during Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007-2008. The relationship between the ICC and some African governments has faced renewed challenges as the Kenya cases have progressed, the groups said. This has led to increased accusations that the court is targeting African leaders, and questions over whether some African ICC members may be considering withdrawing from the ICC’s treaty, the Rome Statute.
“A mass withdrawal by AU member states from the ICC would represent a major setback for global efforts at promoting accountability for perpetrators of serious international crimes. African leaders have recently demonstrated a remarkable commitment to combat impunity for serious crimes on the continent. A blanket support for calls by Kenya and its allies for African states to withdraw from the ICC would undermine its current international reputation”, said Ibrahim Tommy, Executive Director of the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law. “Sierra Leone and other ECOWAS members should press the AU to work to expand the reach of justice, not undermine it.” The work and functioning of the ICC should not be beyond scrutiny and improvement, but withdrawal would risk grave consequences of undermining justice in Africa.
African countries played an active role at the negotiations to establish the court, and 34 African countries – a majority of African Union members – are ICC members. African governments have sought out the ICC to try grave crimes committed on their territories, and Africans are among the highest-level ICC officials as well as serving as judges.
By asking the United Nations to set up a Special Court to try those most responsible for the heinous crimes during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, the government and the people of Sierra Leone joined their counterparts in Rwanda in calling for an end to impunity on the continent. It is worth mentioning that in its September 2013 statement to the UN General Assembly, Sierra Leone expressed support for the work of the ICC, and it should reaffirm that support at the Addis summit.
The groups said that Kenya has put governments in an awkward position by pressing for action to avoid the ICC’s cases while having failed to avail itself of the court’s procedures to authorize such a move based on credible domestic investigation and prosecution.
To read the letter from the 130 groups to the African members of the ICC, please visit:
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