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African Union nations draft motion to quit ICC
Published on 15-07-2016 - at 02:43' by Daily Monitor

The issue of whether to pull out of ICC is on agenda of the 27th African Union Summit, which opened at the weekend in the Rwandan capital Kigali. African leaders will be meeting between Sunday and Monday to decide.

Discussion on the common position by African countries on mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court is in the final stages after a committee tasked to engage the UN Security Council reported back and its recommendations were discussed on Wednesday at the ongoing 27th AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Committee of Foreign Affairs Ministers, which was tasked during the 26th AU Summit held in January in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, also discussed Monday’s decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to refer Uganda’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar-Al-Bashir to the UN Security Council.

Diplomatic sources said the meeting passed a draft decision that will formulate a final decision when the heads of state convene between Sunday and Monday. Some of the key points in the document titled “the ICC Action Plan,” according to sources, indicate that most African countries during consultations had rallied behind the idea of strengthening the Arusha-based African People‘s & Human Rights Court.

The committee members also state that it is agreeable to most African countries that they would rather strengthen institutions to deal with impunity on the continent and also include in its jurisdiction, international war crimes and crimes against humanity now handled by the ICC.

The African Court was established by Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which was adopted under then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Burkina Faso in 1998.

African Court in force
The protocol eventually came into force in 2004 after it was ratified by at least 15 African countries. Fifteen other countries have since ratified the protocol— Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

The Court has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the states concerned.

But as of February 2015, according to the court’s website, now fewer than seven party states had made declaration “recognising the competence of the Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals.” The seven that have recognised the court include Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Mali—a fact which makes cutting ties with the ICC somewhat problematic.

The Wednesday meeting also vehemently “rejected” a proposed amendment to the Rome Statute which gave birth to the ICC to include the component of UN peacekeepers to enforce its indictments.

The resolutions came against the backdrop of a decision by the Hague-based court’s Pre-Trial Chamber II referring both Uganda and Djibouti to the 15-member UN Security Council to take necessary action after the two countries failed to fulfill their obligation of arresting President Bashir.

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African Union chairperson Dlamini Zuma addresses the 27th Ordinary Session of the Union.

Kwamamaza
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