NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – A meeting of East African lawyers and legal officers has made fresh calls for African countries to join together and establish an African Court of Justice where high profile individuals can be tried for wrongdoing as opposed to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Pan African Movement Governing Council Chairperson Kahinda Otafire who doubles up as the Ugandan Justice Minister said it was unfair for African leaders to be humiliated in International Courts, further adding that there was enough expertise across Africa to create a regional court and even run it.
“I don’t condemn ICC as a court, but I say, of all the legal brains that we have on the continent can’t we put together an African Court that deals with our transgressions. Must our leaders suffer the indignity of being tried in foreign lands and being subjected to all sorts of ridicule,” Otafire asked.
His sentiments were reiterated by Buka Ngesa, the chairperson of the non-state actors who indirectly came to the defence of African leaders before The Hague-based International Criminal Court accusing it of playing to the gallery of European countries.
“We have an attempt to give ICC an agenda yet we know ICC is an imperialist court that is meant to be condemned by all forces,” said Ngesa.
He added that African countries should protect their own and ensure that justice is served to all whether the accused or the victim.
He said it was wrong for African countries to ‘ape’ foreign countries whose agenda was to exploit local resources further accusing of the West attempting to scuttle African countries so as to gain control of their assets.
“All that you see glittering in the west is stolen resources from African countries – we developed Europe at our own expense,” he added.
The speakers noted the importance of developing the African continent so at to curb the cases of immigrants seeking better lives in foreign countries.
Deputy President William Ruto who officially opened the three day East African region Pan African congress meeting kept off the ICC issue but lashed out at the civil society for allowing their institutions to be used to soil the image of Africa.
Ruto said it was time the narrative that portrayed Africa as a continent steeped in poverty, corruption and disease was changed to reflect the true representation of the continent.
“We are used to a civil society that is paid and given a script with the narrative that Africa is a continent of diseases, poverty, corruption and ignorance. We need civil societies that believe in Africa to write a new narrative for own people,” he said.
The DP further emphasised the Jubilee Administration’s commitment to enhancing engagement and business between African countries, quoting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inaugural speech where he promised that he would ensure acquisition of visas was made easy to ease movement of people across the continent.
The representatives had called for a common passport between African countries to reduce hindrance when moving from one country to another.
“We want this to be on a reciprocal basis, we should give first priority for people in the continent to access opportunities in our countries. Kenya is a driver in removing the barriers, eliminating the hurdles that exist in doing business as East Africans, as Tripartite Free Area Agreement and as continent,” said Ruto.
The three day meeting will culminate in the group compiling a report of urgent matters that need redress by the African Union and also to ensure a relationship between the Pan African Movement (PAM) and the AU is cultivated.
“Africa needs capable leaders so that what is heard by the AU and PAM is shared; the AU should stop agonizing and begin organizing,” said major Okwiri Rabwoni, Acting Secretary General, global PAM.
In attendance was Kenya’s Attorney General Githu Muigai and Solicitor General Njee Muturi.