Saturday, July 16, 2016 9:57 pm
Dr Aisha Abdullahi, AU’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, has said that the call by some African leaders to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), was to ensure respect for Africa and its leaders.
She disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kigali, Rwanda at the ongoing 27th Ordinary Session of the AU.
“The threat of a collective withdrawal as we call it, is to ensure more respect to Africans and African leaders and I’m sure no African will have any problem with that.’’
She said of the 120 countries that signed the Rome Statues that established the court 34 were from Africa, representing the highest among world blocs.
She said that the African leaders were right to be concerned about cases taken to ICC because they seemed to be only those which have to do with African leaders.
“There are concerns that most of the cases at the court are only from Africa.
“We had seen what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had been destroyed and the current case of Libya.
She said when members of NATO wanted to use force in Libya AU objected but it was ignored.
“We wanted to allow for a continental mechanism to resolve the issue in Libya, but our international allies went ahead and bombarded Libya.
“Since Libya happened, we have not known peace in the Sahel, now it has become a zone of militants and this is what made the African states to begin to have a rethink.”
She, however, said that the argument from the court was that some of the cases brought before it were by the African states themselves.
“This is only partially true because we have cases taken to the court by the UN Security council and the former chief prosecutor Ocampo referred some cases to the court and he didn’t do the same for other regions.’’
Abdullahi said that the court, which was designed to be the court of the last resort for issues bordering on international crimes against humanity, had become the first point of call for justice.
She, however, said that the AU was working on improving its mechanisms to handle such issues of international crimes on the continent without having to go to The Hague.
“ We are committed to fighting impunity and really when you look at the court of The Hague it is a court of the last resort. It is only when national and continental mechanisms have failed that you refer cases to it.
“We are trying to improve on our national mechanisms. We have our human rights strategy, we have the African court in Arusha and there is the Malabo protocol that is asking for the setting up of a criminal chamber in the Arusha court.
“So we believe that it’s better for us to strengthen our national mechanisms and to treat the court at The Hague as the court of the last resort.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ICC was set up in 1998 as an intergovernmental organisation and tribunal with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. (NAN