THE AFRICAN Union must not allow its chairperson President Robert Mugabe to stampede it into pulling out of the International Criminal Court (ICC),various African civil society and human rights organisations have said.
REPORT BY WONGAI ZHANGAZHA
In a petition to the AU during its 25th ordinarysummit taking place in South Africawhere heads of state will meet on Sunday and Monday, several civil society and human rights groups including international organisations with a presence in Africa pressured the AU to ensure justice for gravest crimes committed on the continent.
The groups, whichinclude Kenya Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Coalition for the ICC, Human Rights Network – Uganda, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law-Sierra Leone, Coalition Ivoirienne pour la CPI, Southern African Litigation Centre (South Africa), Human Rights Watch and Media Foundation for West Africa (Ghana),challenged African leaders to introspect and take action to what they consider as grave crimes committed on the continent.
The organisations criticised threats made by Mugabe, in January to push for African members to withdraw their membership from the ICC at the summit.
In addition, the AU is also accused of continuing to call for members not to cooperate in the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is subject to two ICC warrants, and for the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto to be suspended.
“Despite the positive developments, the cause of justice continues to face challenges in Africa. International crimes continue to be committed in African states – such as South Sudan – with little or no accountability,” reads the petition.
“A large majority of African ICC states parties lack legislation that fully incorporates genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity and cooperation with the International Criminal Court in domestic law.”
The civil society said the non-cooperation by the AU undermines the continental body’s commitment to fight impunity in conformity with the provisions of Article 4 (h) and (o) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
“We call on your governments to enhance the capacity of AU mechanisms to respond to conflict situations in a manner that both seeks to pre-empt the occurrence of international crimes and facilitates accountability within transitional justice frameworks in the aftermath of such conflicts.”
In anotherpetition, civil society organisations tasked AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to address xenophobic attacks against migrants and refugees from other African countries in SA.
“We urge the AU to call upon the South African government to take concrete steps to end these attacks, prosecute perpetrators and protect migrants and refugees living in their territory from violations of their human rights, including the right to life,” write the various organisations.