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Africa to push for ICC exit unless conditions met

Capital News

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 12 – The Africa Union (AU) has outlined five issues that it wants amended in the Rome Statute (RS) failure to which, it will continue with its push for collective withdrawal of African member states.

During the Africa Union Open ended Ministerial Committee on ICC held on Monday, the members agreed that the statute should be amended to give immunity to sitting heads of state and senior government officials.

They also recommended for the recognition and precedence of African judicial mechanisms and decisions of the AU organs concerning ICC matters.

“That the provisions of the African Union charter and constitutive act as well as the decisions of AU Assembly must be respected and take precedent over the Rome Statute and decisions of the any other organ.”

In their discussions, the members further agreed that the ICC should respect African countries and the independence of their institutions.

“The meeting unanimously resolved that the journey for reforming the ICC mode of operation was not over until African countries regain their dignity, independence and sovereignty,” a statement for AU indicated.

The members also want the Rome Statute amended to reduce powers of the ICC Prosecutor.

Following the termination of the case against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang, the committee also wants ICC to recall the warrants of arrest issued against three Kenyans wanted over witness interference.

The committee further resolved to meet with the United Nations Security Council before the July 2016 AU Summit.

Part of the discussions included complains that those representing the ICC sent junior officers to the AU summit despite AU’s invitation that senior officers should be present.

In their view, the officers were sent to shut down any proposals forwarded by the AU.

“The member of the committee, most of whom attended the last Assembly of State Parties held in November 2015 at The Hague, voiced their disappointment that those that have been lobbying the ICC did not attend but instead send junior officials with instructions to oppose whatever was being proposed by ministers from African State Parties.”

They agreed that Kenya’s proposals through the African Group in New York should be addressed during the November Assembly of State Parties (ASP).

“These proposals include; i) Article 27 – on Immunity, ii) Preambular part of Rome Statute to allow for complementarity of regional judicial institutions, iii) Rule 165 – rules of procedure, iv) Article 16 on the deferral of cases, and, v) Article 70 – offences against administration of justice.”

The committee Chaired by Ethiopian Foreign Minister H.E. Tedros Adhanom also agreed that ‘member States of the Protocol on the Amendment of the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to make the International Criminal Chamber operational.’

Kenya said it was ready to release its pledge of contributing $1 million for the establishment of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.

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