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Nigeria urges ICC reform, vows not to withdraw

International Criminal Court's building/AFP

International Criminal Court’s building/AFP

ABUJA, Nov 6 – Nigeria’s president Tuesday called for a reform of the International Criminal Court (ICC) but stressed his country was not preparing to withdraw from the body amid African concerns over its operations.

“We are not thinking of pulling out (of the ICC), but we will work with others to strengthen and reform the ICC,” Goodluck Jonathan said in a statement following a meeting with the court’s president in Abuja.

While Nigeria remained committed to the guiding principles of the ICC, the president said urgent action was required to address African leaders’ worries.

Jonathan told ICC president Sang-Hyun Song that Nigeria and the African Union would work with the United Nations and ICC members to overhaul the court’s founding guidelines, including a clause that says a case against a sitting leader with a definite term cannot be deferred.

“Leaders with definite tenures should not be distracted from doing the work their people freely elected them to do. Courts should solve problems, not compound them,” stressed the Nigerian president.

The ICC’s legal statutes should be reformed “to address the concerns of Nigeria and the African Union,” suggested Jonathan, adding the ICC should be more aware of the “challenges African leaders are facing.”

In response, Song assured his host that the African Union’s current concerns could be resolved with further dialogue, according to the statement.

The African Union has called on The Hague-based court to adjourn the crimes against humanity trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto.

Kenyatta and Ruto, who were elected in March, face charges for allegedly masterminding a vicious campaign of ethnic violence that left at least 1,100 dead and more than 600,000 homeless after disputed 2007 elections.

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Aside from Kenya, the ICC is investigating cases in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Libya, Ivory Coast and Mali.


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