South Africa, Kenya, Burundi, and some other African countries have all threatened to quit the ICC because its obligations are inconsistent with laws that grant sitting leaders diplomatic immunity.
The Executive Director of ACILA, William Nyarko, who was a guest on Class FM’s World Affairs programme, said “justice for victims is important” and “that is the basis of domestic or international law so that it is not a focus on perpetrators who commit the crime, so any avenues including the ICC or the proposed African Criminal Court should be welcomed”.
He stated: “We must not have immunity provisions which will ensure that if heads of state are directing the commission of these crimes they should not be held to account.”
For him, crimes against humanity must be stopped when such leaders are in office and not when they are out of government and the acts have been committed.
Citing Article 46a of the Malabo Protocol, he explained that the immunity provision for African heads of state and government and senior government officials in the Malabo Protocol goes against the object and purpose of the Malabo Protocol, impunity, and international justice and must be removed to prevent impunity for international crimes in Africa.
Article 46A states: “No charges shall be commenced or continued before the court against any serving AU 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.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International (AI) and other human rights bodies in Africa have kicked against proposals for the exit of African countries from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa, has argued that even though the ICC can perform better, allegations of targeting Africa are misguided.
He told the host Dr Etse Sikanku on Friday May 5: “It is a deliberate propaganda against the legitimacy of the ICC.”
He was quick to add that “one cannot evade the uncomfortable truth that the ICC could do better because it has so many flaws and so many challenges particularly ensuring that other pressing situations outside Africa like Afghanistan, Palestine, Georgia is advanced like the ones in Africa”.
Nonetheless, he held the view that the ICC had been able to address a myriad of issues and brought culprits who have committed serious crimes against vulnerable people.
Dr Gassan Abess, as Advisor on Human Rights, Research and Criminal Justice at the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law in Sierra Leone, held the view that the ICC had done more good in addressing issues of abuse and injustice.
“I will not recommend withdrawal from the ICC,” Dr Abess said on the same radio programme.
For him, there are many countries in Africa, with some states having a weak criminal justice system and poorly equipped military for whom law enforcement in some situations is a challenge.
He said he was not against an African answer to African problems but the current proposals by African leaders seeking an exit from the ICC are “not solutions”.