Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and other international civil society organisations (CSOs) have penned African International Criminal Court (ICC) members to provide leadership to build on achievements made during 2015.
The letter, which comes as the 25th summit of the African Union (AU) is currently underway, said while the majority of AU members are also members of the ICC, most of them lack domestic laws that fully incorporate genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and cooperation with the ICC, as key pillars of justice.
“Progress in the case against Hissène Habré, Chad’s former president, and the surrender of Lord’s Resistance Army leader Dominic Ongwen to the ICC have been important developments this year, but justice is undermined by the lack of accountability for grave crimes committed in South Sudan and other conflict areas,” said Penny Mbabazi of Uganda’s Foundation for Human Rights Initiative.
The letter, released on June 10 2015, said victims of serious crimes may feel betrayed when their government does not take steps to remedy harm done to them.
CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo has since asked more States to follow Malawi’s recent move to publicly oppose withdrawal from ICC.
He also hailed Bostwana’s strong public backing of the ICC as a crucial court that should be supported and strengthened.
The CSOs have since called on African ICC members to, among other things, enhance the capacity of AU to respond to conflict situations, to avoid international crimes and to facilitate accountability.
They also called for credible national proceedings to hold to account those responsible for serious crimes, such as in the Central African Republic.
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the AU rotating chair for 2015, threatened in January to push for African ICC members, including Malawi, to withdraw from the court at the June summit. He said there is need to form an African version of ICC.
However, in the days leading to the summit, the Malawi Government said it will not take heed of Mugabe’s calls to withdraw from the ICC.
Apart from CHRR, other African CSOs that are signatories to the letter include South Africa’s Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), International Crime in Africa Programme; Uganda’s Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and Sierra Leone’s Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law.