Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back Off, African Union Tells ICC

Back off, AU tells ICC

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 00:00

THE HAGUE. — African Union leaders wound up a historic summit in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa yesterday, with a rejection of the International Criminal Court’s intervention in Kenya.

AU chairman Hailemariam Desalegn, also Ethiopian Prime Minister, said the leaders backed a proposal by Kenya to ask the ICC to drop charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“The African leaders came to a consensus that the ICC process that has been conducted in Africa has a flaw,” the AU chairman told journalists after the closing of the summit.

“The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity, but now the process has degenerated to some kind of race-hunting rather than the fight against impunity,” the Ethiopian prime minister added.

Kenya’s newly-elected President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are required before the Hague-based court to answer for charges of crimes against humanity committed during Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007/2008.

The AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said: “The ICC is not the court of the first resort. It is the court of the last resort. The reformed Kenyan judiciary should be left to deal with the issue. Kenyans accepted the ICC because they did not have confidence in the judiciary, that is why they did not take their last election dispute to the streets.”

African delegates asked the ICC to drop the charges or refer them to Kenya, and the summit mandated the AU to take charge of the process of ensuring that the decision is implemented.

“What does the ICC need? The ICC should not be chasing Africans, 99 percent of the indictees are African. It does not mean Africa is operating out of impunity,” Hailemariam asserted.

The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said the Kenya request was roundly supported at the Executive Council level, comprising ministers, and at the heads of state level.

“We are the only international organisation which has the principle of fighting against impunity. We have the teeth to balance the overarching need for justice in line with the will of the people,” Lamamra said.

Hailemariam said the ICC should take note of the political reconciliation in Kenya, which led to the vote in March this year, for Kenyatta and his deputy, Ruto, handing the two the mandate to lead.

Lamamra said the ICC should withdraw the case if it considered its relations with African states.

He said during the summit, some African leaders who supported the court were concerned about the conduct of investigations.

“For the ICC to continue enjoying the AU support, they have to listen to the legitimate concerns. The UN Security Council should also be responsive to the course,” Lamamra said.

However, the ICC yesterday denied the AU charge that it was racist.

“The International Criminal Court will not be reacting to African Union resolutions,” ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told AFP after the pan-continental bloc urged the Kenyans’ trials be taken out of the ICC’s hands.

The Hague-based ICC, set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes, is frequently accused of bias because all of its cases involve Africans.


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