130 Groups Across Africa Call for Countries to Back ICC

AU Summit Should Support Court, Including Kenya Cases

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 Africa, and questions over whether some African ICC members may be considering withdrawing from the ICC’s treaty, the Rome Statute.

Southern Africa was at the forefront of pressing for a permanent international criminal court, said Angela Mudukuti, International Criminal Justice Programme Project Lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Center. South Africa and other Southern Africa Development Community members should press the AU to work to expand the reach of justice, not cripple it.

In southern Africa, Botswana has been a vocal proponent of the ICC in the face of recent attacks on the court, but many other African ICC members have remained silent. However, in its September statement to the UN General Assembly, Lesotho expressed strong support for the ICC, and it should reaffirm that support at the Addis summit. Mauritius also adopted legislation to implement the ICC’s treaty domestically in 2011, putting it in a good position to express strong support for the court at the summit.

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.

Five African states asked the ICC to investigate crimes committed in their countries – Côte d’Ivoire , Uganda, Central African Republic, Mali, and Democratic Republic of Congo, said Georges Kapiamba, president of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice. These states have particular authority and responsibility to dispel claims that the ICC is targeting Africa.

Any withdrawal from the ICC would send the wrong signal about Africa’s commitment to protect and promote human rights and to reject impunity, as reflected in article 4 of the AU’s Constitutive Act, the organizations said. 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.

This year 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. They should actively push back against unprincipled attacks on the court and support the ICC’s ability to operate without interference, including in Kenya.

The Nigerian government reaffirmed a “firm commitment to the Rome Statute” and “readiness for continued cooperation with ICC to put an end to impunity” in a recent filing to the ICC. 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.

Kenya’s leaders in 2008 initially agreed to set up a special tribunal to try cases related to the postelection violence, which claimed more than 1,100 lives, destroyed livelihoods, and displaced more than a half-million people. But efforts to create the tribunal or to move cases forward in ordinary courts failed. The ICC prosecutor then opened an investigation, as recommended by a national commission of inquiry set up as part of an African Union-mediated agreement to end the violence.

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.

Read the letter from the 130 groups to the African members of the ICC.

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  • Co-signatories

    Signatories

    1. Amnesty International Afrique du Sud
    2. Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, Afrique du Sud
    3. Co-operative for Research and Education, Afrique du Sud
    4. Darfur Solidarity, Afrique du Sud
    5. International Crime in Africa Programme, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Afrique du Sud
    6. South Africa Forum for International Solidarity, Afrique du Sud
    7. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), Afrique du Sud
    8. Amnesty International Bénin
    9. Coalition Béninoise pour la CPI, Bénin
    10.The Botswana Centre for Human Rights (DITSHWANELO), Botswana
    11. Amnesty International Burkina Faso
    12. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT) au Burundi
    13. Action pour le Droit et le Bien-être de l’Enfant, Burundi
    14. Association des Femmes Juristes du Burundi
    15. Fontaine-ISOKO pour la Bonne Gouvernance et le Développement Intégré, Asbl, Burundi
    16. Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), Burundi
    17. Forum for Strengthening Civil Society, Burundi
    18. Forum pour la Conscience et le Développement, Burundi
    19. Ligue burundaise des droits de l’Homme (ITEKA), Burundi
    20. Réseau des Citoyens Probes, Burundi
    21. Cameroon Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Cameroun
    22. Gender Empowerment and Development, Cameroun
    23. Association Capverdienne des Femmes Juristes, Cap-Vert
    24. Coalition Ivoirienne pour la CPI, Côte d’Ivoire
    25. Ligue ivoirienne des droits de l’Homme (LIDHO), Côte d’Ivoire
    26. Mouvement ivoirien des droits humains (MIDH), Côte d’Ivoire
    27. Réseau Equitas Côte d’Ivoire
    28. Eastern Africa Journalists Association, Djibouti
    29. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Égypt
    30. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Égypt
    31. Human Rights Concern, Erythrée
    32. The Civil Society Associations Gambie
    33. Coalition For Change, Gambie
    34. Abibiman Foundation, Ghana
    35. Amnesty International Ghana
    36. Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights, Ghana
    37. Communication for Social Change, Ghana
    38. Ghana Center for Democratic Development, Ghana
    39. Media Foundation for West Africa, Ghana
    40. Association des victimes, parents et amis du 28 septembre 2009 (AVIPA), Guinée
    41. Organisation guinéenne des droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (OGDH), Guinée
    42. Amnesty International Kenya
    43. Civil Society Organization’s Network (CSON), Kenya
    44. Independent Medico-Legal Unit, Kenya
    45. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Kenya
    46. Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ), Kenya
    47. Unganisha Wakenya Association, Kenya
    48. Transformation Resource Center, Lesotho
    49. Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives, Liberia
    50. Concerned Christian Community, Liberia
    51. Foundation for International Dignity, Liberia
    52. Liberia Research and Public Policy Center, Liberia
    53. National Civil Society Council of Liberia
    54. National Youth Action, Inc., Liberia
    55. Rights and Rice Foundation, Liberia
    56. Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Malawi
    57. Centre for the Development of People, Malawi
    58. Civil Liberties Committee, Malawi
    59. Church and Society Programme, Malawi
    60. Association malienne des droits de l’Homme (AMDH), Mali
    61. Coalition Malienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains, Mali
    62. Coalition Malienne pour la CPI, Mali
    63. FEMNET-Mali
    64. Association des Femmes Chefs de Familles (AFCF), Mauritanie
    65. Association mauritanienne des droits de l’Homme (AMDH), Mauritanie
    66. NamRights, Namibie
    67. Access to Justice, Nigeria
    68. Alliances for Africa, Nigeria
    69. BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Nigeria
    70. BraveHeart Initiative for Youth & Women, Nigeria
    71. Center for Citizens Rights, Nigeria
    72. Centre for Democracy and Development, Nigeria
    73. Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Nigeria
    74. Citizens Center for Integrated Development & Social Rights, Nigeria
    75. Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Nigeria
    76. Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, Nigeria
    77. Coalition of Eastern NGOs, Nigeria
    78. Human Rights Agenda Network Nigeria
    79. Human Rights Social Development and Environmental Foundation, Nigeria
    80. Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Nigeria
    81. Justice, Development and Peace Commission, Nigeria
    82. Legal Redress and Justice Centre, Nigeria
    83. Legal Resources Consortium, Nigeria
    84. National Coalition on Affirmative Action, Nigeria
    85. Nigeria Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Nigeria
    86. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Nigeria
    87. West African Bar Association, Nigeria
    88. Advocates for Public International Law Ouganda
    89. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Ouganda
    90. Community Development and Child Welfare Initiatives, Ouganda
    91. Corruption Brakes Crusade, Ouganda
    92. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Ouganda
    93. Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), Ouganda
    94. Human Rights Network Ouganda
    95. Kumi Human Rights Initiative, Ouganda
    96. Lira NGO Forum, Ouganda
    97. People for Peace and Defence of Rights, Ouganda
    98. Soroti Development Association & NGOs Network, Ouganda
    99. Uganda Coalition on the International Criminal Court, Ouganda
    100. Uganda Victims Foundation, Ouganda
    101. Women Peace and Security, Ouganda
    102. Central African Coalition for the ICC, République centrafricaine
    103. Rencontre pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme, République du Congo
    104. Access to Justice, République démocratique du Congo (RDC)
    105. Action des Chrétiens Activistes des Droits de l’Homme à Shabunda, RDC
    106. Arche d’Alliance, RDC
    107. Congo Peace Network, RDC
    108. Congolese Foundation for the Promotion of Human Rights and Peace, RDC
    109. Coordination Office of the Civil Society of South Kivu, RDC
    110. Coalition nationale pour la Cour pénale internationale de la RDC
    111. Groupe Lotus (GL), RDC
    112. Ligue des Elécteurs, RDC
    113. Ligue pour la Paix, les Droits de l´Homme et la Justice, RDC
    114. Ligue pour la Promotion et le Développement Intégral de la Femme et de l’Enfant, RDC
    115. Synergie des ONGs Congolaises pour les Victimes, RDC
    116. Vision GRAM- International, RDC
    117. Vision Sociale asbl, RDC
    118. Human Rights First Rwanda Association, Rwanda
    119. Amnesty International Sénégal
    120. Ligue sénégalaise des droits humains (LSDH), Sénégal
    121. Amnesty International Sierra Leone
    122. Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, Sierra Leone
    123. Coalition for Justice and Accountability, Sierra Leone
    124. Children Education Society, Tanzanie
    125. Services Health & Development for people living positively with HIV/AIDS, Tanzanie
    126. Tanzania Pastoralist Community Forum, Tanzanie
    127. Association tchadienne pour la promotion et le défense des droits de l’Homme (ATPDH), Tchad
    128. Coalition de la Société Civile tchadienne pour la CPI, Tchad
    129. Ligue tchadienne des droits de l’Homme (LTDH), Tchad
    130. Amnesty International Togo
    131. Collectif des Associations Contre l’Impunité au Togo
    132. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains, Togo
    133. Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Zambie
    134. Amnesty International Zimbabwe
    135. Counselling Services Unit, Zimbabwe
    136. Coalition for the International Criminal Court, avec des bureaux au Bénin et en RDC
    137. Enough Project, avec des bureaux en RDC, au Kenya, au Sud-Soudan, et en Ouganda
    138. Human Rights Watch, avec des bureaux au Kenya et en Afrique du Sud
    139. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), with their offices in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, and Mali
    140. Parliamentarians for Global Action, avec des bureaux en RDC et en Ouganda
    141. West African Journalists Association, avec des bureaux au Mali et au Sénégal
    142. Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, avec des bureaux en Égypt et en Ouganda


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