Promoting Accountability for International Crimes in Africa

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On 10-11 October 2013 a group of more than 20 experts in international and transitional justice and human rights convened in Arusha, Tanzania, hosted by the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI), Kituo Cha Katiba, and the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU). The purpose of the meeting was to reflect on the agenda of the Extra-ordinary Summit of the African Union on international justice and the International Criminal Court (ICC), and prepare submissions to contribute a civil society perspective to those deliberations. The meeting built on previous consultations held in Nairobi in June and October 2009. The participants, who were invited and conducted the deliberations in their individual capacities, adopted the following recommendations for the consideration of the African Union (AU), African member states, the ICC and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

General Comments

These recommendations were adopted with the recognition that:

  • The standards and instruments adopted by African states recognise justice as a legitimate aspiration of African peoples and require all AU member states to ensure effective access for their citizens to capable, independent and effective national, regional, continental and international accountability mechanisms.
  • The AU has consistently affirmed its commitment to the fight against impunity in Africa. This is reflected in Article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act which authorises the Union to intervene in situations of mass atrocity. This commitment has also been manifested in the following ways:
  1. Progress towards the trial of former President Hissène Habré, in the Republic of Senegal, on behalf of the AU;
  2. Commencement of cases and decisions emerging from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; which show a commitment to combating impunity and that it will not shy away from handling cases that involve mass atrocities;
  3. Progress towards an international crimes jurisdiction for the African Court;
  4. Adoption of a Model Law on Universal Jurisdiction; and
  5. On 7 July 2012, the ECOWAS Contact Group on Mali called for the referral of the situation in the Republic of Mali to the ICC. Shortly thereafter, the Republic of Mali referred the situation itself.
  • The reasons for which thirty-four African states ratified the Rome Statute remain relevant. Since 2011, two African states have referred situations in their countries to the ICC.
  • The AU and African states must remain cognisant of the fact that there are millions of African people who are victims of international crimes and mass atrocity. Their need for justice must be the primary concern for African states in all conversations about international justice.
  • So far, in the AU discourse on international justice, economic actors and economic crimes have not received sufficient attention.

For more information about this, take a look at the attached file..