South Sudan conflict was one of the main concerns of the last African Union (AU) Summit held in Kigali (Rwanda) on 17 and 18 July 2016, where the African leaders made it official that they were willing to deploy troops in South Sudan.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed his support for the AU deployment.
South Sudan just emerged from the 2013-2015 civil war which displaced 2.2 million people. Notwithstanding, the recent fighting between rival forces which left hundreds of people dead jeopardizes the Peace Deal signed in August 2015.
Even if a 12 000-strong UN peacekeeping force is already in South Sudan, the African leaders want to put into order a stronger mandate. According to Smail Chergui, the AU Peace and Security Commissioner, “the UN doesn’t have the mandate to impose peace“.
The details on the force are not agreed yet, but it will involve soldiers coming from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda and the model used will probably be similar to the intervention deployed within the UN’s mission in Democratic Republic of Congo held in 2013. Smail Chergui explained that “African troops are ready to engage in very difficult situations“.
By John Dugard*
The ruling African National Congress’s demand that the South African government should pull out of the International Criminal Court is defeatist, naïve and reactionary. African states have largely themselves to blame for the fact that the continent has been singled out by the court, and rather than withdraw they should use their political muscle to ensure that prosecutions are brought against non-African leaders too.
Africa occupies a key position in the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is the largest regional group with 34 member states; the present prosecutor of the court is an African woman Fatou Bensouda of The Gambia and four of the 18 judges on the court are from Africa, including the vice-president, Joyce Aluoch of Kenya. Africa is not therefore a marginal player in the ICC.
Despite this the ICC is more criticised in Africa than any other continent. In large measure this criticism comes from the leaders of non-member states, such as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who are themselves accused of committing international crimes.
But the leaders of member states, whose judges serve or have served on the court, have given support to the criticism and condemnation of the court. Perhaps the three most vocal leaders of this group are Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and South African President Jacob Zuma. Continue reading
by Arnold Tsunga and Wayne Jordash QC
African Union Summit, July 2014
There is a general notion that the law is like a spiders web. It only catches the weak.
The decision adopted by the AU heads in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to grant immunity from prosecution for serious human rights violations to heads of state and senior government officials at the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples Rights only serves to reinforce this perception.
Heads who faced justice
Few African heads of state have been tried for serious human rights violations of their own people. Those that come to mind are Charles Taylor (Liberia) and Hosni Mubarak (Egypt). Charles Taylor was tried by a hybrid tribunal set up under the auspices of the UN in Sierra Leone (sitting in The Hague, a city that has become the seat of international justice). After being overthrown in a revolution, Mubarak was tried by domestic courts in what some view as flawed victors justice. The AU was not involved in either of these proceedings.
Others await or are going through trial. These are Laurent Gbagbo (Cote DIvoire), Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir (Sudan), Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto (Kenya) at the ICC, and Hissène Habré (Chad) at an AU sponsored tribunal in Senegal. The Hissène Habré case has been awaiting trial since shortly after the millennium. Legitimate concerns have been raised about the willingness of the AU leaders to see Hissène Habré face justice and the completion of the trial. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir has been largely protected by the AU heads that have refused to cooperate with the ICC to effect his warrant of arrest. Continue reading
African Leaders at the African Union Summit last week
At a summit of the African Union held last Friday in Equatorial Guinea, African leaders present voted in favour of an amendment that would grant them and “senior officials” immunity from prosecution for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide before the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
The text of the amendment, which was passed was as follows:
“No charges shall be commenced or continued before the Court against any serving African Union Head of State or Government, or anybody acting or entitled to act in such capacity, or other senior state officials based on their functions, during their tenure of office.”
It is unclear who will be entitled to immunity as a “senior state official.” Amnesty International have called the move
“a step backwards in the fight against impunity and a betrayal of the victims who suffered serious human rights abuses.”
Ahead of the meeting on Friday, 42 African and international civil society rights groups objected to the proposed amendment noting in an open letter that the resulting impunity violates international and domestic laws as well as the constitution of the African Union.
The vote was part of a larger discussion on the Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. The African Court of Justice and Human Rights is the result of the decision of the African Union to amalgamate the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Court of Justice of the African Union.