NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) has said that the African Union (AU) was misplaced to think of forming a court that would serve as Africa’s version of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The Head of the ICTJ Kenya Office Njonjo Mue said AU’s move to create the alternative court was unrealistic since it did not have the capability to handle the crimes that meet the threshold of the ICC.
“It is a question of capacity. The African Court on Human Rights has been in place for a number of years but it has very little activity because it has a provision that member countries accept to be sued before the court,” he said.
The AU is in the process of drafting a protocol to give the African Court on Human Rights a criminal mandate. The procedure is likely to be discussed in the next AU summit.
But Mr Mue argued that crimes against humanity are universal and it was wrong for the AU to Africanise them by forming an African court to deal with even bigger crimes.
“A crime is a crime whether it was committed in Europe, in Africa, in Asia, crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide are all the same,” he said.
Mr Mue acknowledged the basis of forming the ICC which he said was set up to avoid forming specific courts for specific regions. He called on the civil society to vigorously conduct civic education as well as work with the AU on the intended court.
He said there was need to engage constructively to ensure they understand the legal background and scrutinise to see if the intended court will match to the international standards.
He also asked his colleagues in the civil society to actively remind the AU that it is obliged to respect and protect human rights.
Kenya being one of the signatories to the Rome Statute was recently on the global spotlight after its attempts to defer the ongoing cases against six Kenyans before the ICC.
However, the motive was seen to be an effort to save the ‘Ocampo six’ suspected masterminds of the 2008 post election violence.