AU move on African leaders immunity dismissed

By Christine Muchira /Release

Amnesty International has dismissed the decision by the Assembly of the African Union (AU) to grant sitting African leaders immunity from prosecution for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The decision was termed as a backward step in the fight against impunity and a betrayal of victims of serious violations of human rights.

An official communiqué released Tuesday confirmed that African heads of state and government meeting at the AU Summit in Equatorial Guinea on the 26th and 27th of June had voted to adopt an amendment granting incumbent government leaders and other senior officials immunity from prosecution in the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.

“At a time when the African continent is struggling to ensure that there is accountability for serious human rights violations and abuses, it is impossible to justify this decision which undermines the integrity of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, even before it becomes operational,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy.

“We are deeply disappointed that African heads of state and government have failed to provide the leadership needed to ensure justice for victims of crimes under international law, opting instead to shield themselves and future generations and leaders from prosecution for serious abuses,” he added.

Irrespective of the AU’s decision, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will retain the right to investigate serving African heads of state and government for such crimes.

“This decision does not fit with the AU’s own Constitutive Act and the other international human rights obligations and commitments of its member states,” said Netsanet Belay.

“Those responsible for serious human rights violations must face justice, irrespective of their official positions and the adoption of this amendment is a backward step in the long battle for accountability and human rights in Africa.”

1 Comment

  1. Jack Arek
    July 03, 2014

    Its truly surprising that African leaders can move such a motion and yet maintainthat they are running democratic states. Africa as a whole and Kenya in particular has experienced henious human rights abuses with very little action being taken against the papetrators. If this is allowed to continue, the continent will become an autocratic empire with its citizens reduced to meere beast with absolutely no basic human rights. We know that all African states do not
    share these sentiments but the majority are being lobbied by victims of such atrocities and believing that one day they might be victims themselves, are illusioned enough to support such motions.
    Amnesty and other human rights bodies should take this matter seriously before it becomes a plague without a cure. People are being oppressed so much in some parts of African where even an expression like this is considered a sedition
    and people have since chosen to keep quite and surrender themselves subjects of such barbaric rules.
    One would want to ask where is Africa heading to if it can not protect its own citizen from whom they come every five years to seek re-election to the office! Some heads of states have ignored the democratic process of election to the extent of publicly anouncing their self obtained rights to occupy the office indefinately when they attack their opponnets oblivious of the audince they are addressing.
    Africa need sound leadership where the presidency is not about the powef and the influence those offices currently habor, but the credibility and efficiency needed to run the state like any other business house where all stake holder are accorded the emminence due to them for a sustainanble socio-economic development.
    We are living in the 21st century where technology istaking a toll on the society, yet some of our leaders are still bent on autocratic sytems thinking only of their own selfish rights at the expense of their citizens whom in essence are thier paymasters!
    In basic management principles, one is taught how to improve dextrity and effiiency through a sequencial learning curve where experience as it were and not academic skills is the guide. Did our leaders become so deaf and blindfolded to the world system of the day they can not learn to adapt to the current events? It was only a while ago the Itaalian Berlesconni was arrained in court for alleged abuse of office and connections with “bonga-bonga” parties, this week, the former French prisident Sacoucci is facing a simillar trial for abuse of office and illigal financing of his elections several years ago!
    Why should our African leaders want to take a secluded stance from the rest of the world system and force us in to a barbaric world order only reminicsent of the stone age? Is this perhaps why Africa is being refered to a as “the dark continent”