24th AU Summit : "AU must guarantee peace and security in Africa based on human rights and justice"

Press release

FIDH calls upon the African Union (AU), on the occasion of its 24th ordinary Summit, to demonstrate its commitment to fight against terrorism and insecurity in Africa through a coordination of its member states’ action, that is based on the respect for human rights, and through its support to justice mechanisms that could contribute to the maintaining and restoration of peace.

For Karim Lahidji, FIDH President, “No region of the African continent is spared by the impact of the new forms of conflicts and the increase of transnational threats. In the face of these multiform security challenges, the African Union should respond by founding the legitimacy of its fight against terrorism and insecurity on human rights and justice” .

AU should develop a continental counter-terrorism strategy that respects human rights, as well as a coherent strategy to fight impunity of those responsible for international crimes. In its fight against terrorism, AU should for instance consider the deployment of human rights observers in crisis situations such Nigeria and Cameroon. AU should also prevent the instrumentalization of the fight against terrorism aimed at repressing the legitimate exercice of fundamental freedoms, as observed in several countries, including Egypt. AU should also support the national judicial proceedings engaged in countries that remain fragile, such as Mali, where judicial proceedings have been opened into the crimes committed in the North in 2012 and the crimes committed by the military junta in 2013. For several Malian stakeholders, the outcome of such proceedings will be a guarantee of non-repetition of the atrocities perpetrated in this country.

In South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR), AU action should be strengthened. It should be commensurate to the scale and seriousness of the crimes that have been perpetrated by belligerents. In both countries, AU should support the creation of a hybrid criminal court composed of national and international investigators and judges specialized in investigating and prosecuting the authors of serious crimes.

For Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President and Coordinator of the Litigation Action Group (LAG), “the creation of hybrid courts seems essential in South Sudan and CAR where civilians have been victims of mass crimes, where no effective national judicial proceedings have been engaged, where there is a complete lack of capacity within the State’s structures, and where populations do not trust institutions whom they perceive to be partisan. The creation of such jurisdictions could provide for justice in those countries where the correlation between impunity and resurgence of conflicts is clear.”

In South Sudan, AU should publish without delay the conclusions of itsCommission of Inquiry created in March 2014, whilst ensuring that they include a recommendation calling for the creation of a hybrid court. In CAR, on 8th August 2014, the Central African authorities and the United Nations signed a memorandum of understanding providing for the creation of a Special Criminal Court (CCS) composed of Central African and international judges. AU should now call upon the National Transitional Council to adopt a bill for the creation of this court and to provide specialized investigators and judges to this court.

For FIDH, national judicial proceedings and the creation of hybrid courts should not replace the action of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has the capacity and expertise to prosecute those bearing the highest responsibility for the perpetration of international crimes. For Drissa Traoré, FIDH vice-president, “the efforts made by the African Union to stop the cycles of violence should include an increased cooperation with the ICC. The ICC has recently opened investigations into the crimes committed in Mali and CAR, at the request of these States which should be supported in their fight against impunity. The deterrent effect of the ICC could also be essential in situations of extreme urgency where justice has no capacity to act or to respond to the threat posed by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Aqmi and Al Shebab”.

Read FIDH recommendations for the 24th AU summit

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