Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Ethiopia- Photo: UN
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-The International Criminal Court (ICC) should not be allowed to continue treating Africa and Africans in a condescending manner, the chair of the AU Executive Council, who is also Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said here Friday.
Apparently disgusted by the way in which the ICC has been handling charges against Kenyan leaders, Dr. Tedros urged the Council’s extraordinary session underway here to expedite the work on developing an AU framework on national reconciliation and justice based on the relevant legal instruments of the continental organisation.
“That is the reason why we are gathered here today and I am confident that our deliberations will help us to come up with appropriation recommendations for consideration and adoption by our Heads of State and Government,” he said.
The 15th Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council was specifically called to discuss Africa’s relationship with the ICC and to elect a new Commissioner for Peace and Security.
However, the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr.Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, told the opening session that issues of the tragedy off the Italian coast of Lampeduza Island and the kidnapping of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in Tripoli this week have been added to the agenda.
“We are here to discuss matters not only pertinent to the African continent, but to the entire international community,” Dr. Dlamini-Zuma told the one-day session.
Speaking at length about the ICC and its relations with Africa, the Council chair regretted the “unfortunate manner in which the Court has been operating, particularly its unfair treatment of Africa and Africans.”
“Far from promoting justice and reconciliation and contributing to the advancement of peace and stability in our continent, the Court has transformed itself into a political instrument targeting Africa and Africans.
“However, it is regrettable that our repeated call has fallen on deaf ears and our concerns have been completely ignored,” he said, pointing to the AU’s request to the UN Security Council to defer the proceedings initiated against Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir that has neither been heard nor acted upon.
“We have also received no response to our request for a deferral of the ICC investigations and prosecutions in relation to the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya, in line with the principle of complementarity, to allow for a national mechanism to investigate and prosecute the cases under the reformed Judiciary provided for in the new [Kenyan] constitutional dispensation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tedros said the recent decision of the ICC, in relation to the Kenyan situation, demanding President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President Ruto to attend all court proceedings at The Hague, has further complicated the matter.
“This decision does not only undermine the ability of the Kenyan leaders in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities but also poses significant threats against the country’s sovereignty,” he affirmed.
“During this session,” Dr. Tedros urged, “we should seriously consider how we should ensure that our collective voice is heard to receive a fair treatment to our concerns.”
He explained that whereas the OAU’s policy was non-interference, the AU’s policy is non-indifference and that means whatever concerns African citizens and any member state had in any part of the continent “should be our collective concern as the African Union.”
“The immunity of Heads of State cannot be taken lightly and our meeting should come out very clearly on this issue.
“It should be emphasised that the way this [Kenyan] issue is being handled by the ICC has serious implications on Africa’s relations with the ICC,” he said.
He appealed to the council to finalise the Protocol on the establishment of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights in order to handle gross violations of human rights within Africa to avoid external interference in African affairs.
Furthermore, he called on State Parties to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC to aggressively work in concert more than ever before to ensure that their collective voice is heard in the Assembly of State Parties and the proposals made to amend the Statute are fully accepted.