COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT END OF STRATEGY PLANNING MEETING OF…
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 8-10 OCTOBER 2018.
Between 8th and 9th October 2018, members of the African Network on International Criminal Justice (ANICJ) which comprises civil society organizations working to promote justice, peace and the rule of law in Africa, met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to adopt its operational Charter and prepare its 3-year strategic plan towards the fight against impunity for international crimes in Africa.
The meeting was facilitated by the Coalition for the International Criminal Court and the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court with funding support of the European Commission.
Members of the Network from 21 countries of Africa participated in the meetings, and at end of which the network resolved as follows:
- The Charter of the Network, which sets out the operational values and principles, was validated and adopted.
- The sub regional Focal Points of the network were appointed for the 5 geographic regions of the continent, namely, Moroccan Coalition for the ICC (North Africa), Institute for Security Studies (Southern Africa), Ivorian Coalition for the ICC (West Africa), Burundian Coalition for ICC (East Africa) and the Congolese Coalition for the ICC (Central Africa). The Nigerian Coalition for the ICC hosts the coordinating secretariat, and the global Coalition for the ICC is the co-convener of the Network.
- The Focal Points are mandated to coordinate the operations of the network in their respective sub-regions, engage governments of countries in their sub-regions in the fight against impunity, and expand the network to bring in more civil society organizations, academia, activists and human rights defenders.
Human Rights Situation in Burundi
- The network welcomes the effort of the African Union to bring stability and peace in Burundi, but condemns the continued arrest and imprisonment of several human rights defenders in Burundi. On the invitation of the Burundian government offered to the Network by the Burundian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union Commission, His Excellency, Dieudonee Ndabarushimana, the network resolved to send a delegation of its members to that country in the last quarter of 2018 in order to assess the situation of human rights and measure taken by the national judicial institution to hold perpetrator of international crimes accountable. The delegation will also undertake any possible constructive engagement with the Burundian government as contribution to bringing peace, rule of law and stability in the country. The Network commends the government of Burundi for the invitation for the mission extended to the Network and assures the government and people of Burundi of the Network objectivity its interventions in the country.
Increasing access of civil society to the African Union Commission and meetings
- The Network expresses concern at the difficulties encountered by civil society organizations in Africa in gaining physical and information access to the African Union Commission and meetings of the Union, and urges the African Union Commission to reform its process of ECOSOC accreditation in order to give more civil society organizations opportunity to contribute positively and constructively to the development of the continent.
- As the emerging voice of civil society in Africa on international justice issues, the network resolves to apply for accreditation of the ECOSOC of the African Union in order to facilitate its members from across Africa to have increased access to the African Union Commission and its institutions so as to enhance the voice of civil society in African in the affairs of the African Union.
International Criminal Court and Africa
- The Network affirms its commitment to the core values of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court and the guiding principles of the global Coalition for the ICC, and commends the ICC in its continued efforts in tackling impunity across the world including in Africa. However, the Network notes with dismay that the number of cases currently investigated or prosecuted at the ICC is too little and unduly protracted to meet the huge expectations of the victims of atrocity crimes in Africa and the resources the state parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC expend on the court.
- The Network welcomes the support given to the ICC by many African state parties especially in diplomatically resolving the erstwhile threats of mass withdrawal of African states parties from the Rome Statute. The Network urges African State Parties to work together in a coordinated manner to fulfill their respective treaty obligations under the Statute. Furthermore, the network urge the African state parties to fully pay up their financials dues to the ICC and fully cooperation with the court in accordance with their treaty obligations under the Statute.
Threats to the integrity and independence of the ICC
- The Network condemns the recent threats to the ICC and its officials by the governments of the United States of America, which are capable of undermining the independence of the court and worsen the situation of impunity across the world. The network urges the US, as well as China and Russia to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC and fully support the court as a way of demonstrating true leadership of the world.
African union and rule of law in Africa
- The Network welcomes the new initiatives of the African Union Commission to improve good governance, the rule of law and accountability for international crimes in the continent, including the adoption of the Protocol to merge the African Court on Human and People’s Rights with the proposed African Court of Justice and introduce jurisdiction for international crimes (the Malabo Protocol). The Network is however concerned that the provisions of article 46bis of the Protocol, which confers immunity from arrest and prosecution to heads of state and senior government officials undermines the essential purpose of the Protocol and contradicts all extant international laws on immunities for international crimes.
- The Network resolves to constructively engage the African Union Commission and the African state governments in seeking ways to review and improve the provisions of the Malabo Protocol in order to actualize its intention of establishing an effective regional framework of accountability for international crimes to compliment the International Criminal Court and national judicial systems. To this end, the Network proposes to organize a high-level Summit on the Malabo Protocol in the first quarter of 2019 to bring together key stakeholders in order to advance effective and functional African strategies for fighting against impunity in the continent.
- The Network further calls on African states that have not ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC and the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC to do so without delay in order to contribute to effort of the international community to fight impunity for international crimes.
Accountability for atrocity crimes in Africa
- The Network is concerned that most of the violations of human rights, humanitarian laws and atrocity crimes committed in Africa are not investigated and prosecuted. Most perpetrators of these crimes remain in power and continue to commit more violations. The victims are not given any redress or justice. The Network calls on African governments to improve on their national judicial institutions so as to ensure that all violators of human rights are fully brought to justice and the victims adequately redressed.
Victims of human rights violation and international crimes in Africa
- The Network is concerned that millions of victims of human rights violations and international crimes across Africa, especially in ICC’s situation and Preliminary examination countries, have not received justice, and condemns the African Union for not giving priority attention to victims’ reparation. The Network resolves to coordinate and support networks of Victims groups across the continent in order to give voice to the victims. To this end, the network proposed to hold a meeting of Victims’ groups across African in the first quarter of 2019 to articulate the priority needs and effective strategies of demanding for justice.
- The Network notes that the Extra-ordinary Criminal Chambers of the African Union that held in Dakar Senegal to try ex-President of Thad, Hussein Habra, awarded reparations to victims of the atrocities committed by ex-President Habra, but regrets that these victims have not been paid. The Network urges the African Union to establish a Contributory Victims’ Reparation Fund to meet needs of victims in the continent including complying with the judicial order for reparation for victims in Thad. The Network resolves to work with victims’ networks in Thad to undertake the mapping of the relevant victims and to work towards ensuring that they are redressed.
- On specific situation and Preliminary examination countries, the Network note as follows:
- Central African Republic: The Network commends of the international community and the government of CAR to establish the Special courts in Bangui and urges all stakeholders to speed up the process of the courts in order to bring justice for many victims of atrocity crimes in the country.
- Mali: The network commends the opening of the trials at the ICC of Malian cases, and fresh arrests and investigations undertaken by the ICC in Mali, but notes that the security situation in the country is still very fragile, exacerbated by the events of the July 2018 general elections. The network urges the Malian government to resolve all legally electoral disputes in order to reduce electoral conflicts that could lead to atrocity crimes in the country.
- Cote d’Viore : The Network notes the continued effort of the government of Cote d’Voire to bring perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice, and the ICC’s proceedings against the former head of State, but is concerned that only one side of the conflict is being investigated and prosecuted. The Network is also concerned that the victims of the violence that lead to the ICC’s intervention have not been fully compensated, and urges the government of Cote d’Voire to increase its efforts in redressing all identified victims.
- Nigeria: The Network commends the efforts of government of Nigeria in opening the prosecutions of suspect of atrocity crimes by Boko Haram terrorists, but condemn the failure of the government to also investigate and prosecute military officials and other security personnel and members of military-backed paramilitary group called the Civilian Joint Task Force who are widely accused of committing violations of human rights and international crimes. The Network urges the Prosecutor of the ICC to conclude its preliminary examination of Nigeria and to open investigations and indict any perpetrator of international crimes in the country.
- Guinea: The Network notes that the preliminary examination of the situation in Guinea by the Prosecutor of the ICC in respect of the September 29 2011 atrocities has not be concluded several years after it was opened, and urges the prosecutor to conclude the examinations forthwith and open investigations and indict any suspected perpetrator of international This is important to assure the victims who are still alive that that they can get justice within their lifetime, as many of the victims have died due to the aftereffect of the violations they suffered. Also, the Government must take all necessary measures to grant temporary compensations to the victims.
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: The Network is worried at the recent declaration of DRC government officials to withdraw its ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and urges the government of DCR not to consider a withdrawal but to support the ICC and civil society actors in DRC to fight impunity and ensure accountability for atrocity crimes.
- South Africa: The Network commends the government of South Africa in recent indications of its intention to cease the legislative processes of repealing the International Crimes Act and suspend its withdrawal from the Rome Statutes. The network also commends government of South African for paying up part of its financial dues to the ICC, and encourages it to continue to play leadership role in the sub regions towards the fight against impunity
- Burundi: the Network commends the declaration by the President of Burundi of his intention not to seek re-election at the end of his current third tenure in office in 2020, which will hopefully bring considerable easing of political tension in the country, and urges him not to retract from this commitment. The Network also urges the Burundian government to open its boarders to the international community so as to assist it in bringing peace and stability in the country. The network condemns the expulsion of United Nations experts, the reduction of the African Union observer contingent, and continued arrest and incarceration of several human rights defenders in Burundi, and urges the government of Burundi to release all human rights defenders in detention. The network condemns the terrible decision of the Burundi government to withdraw from the Rome Statute in order to continue the massacres and crimes against humanity without prosecution nor the possibility of involving international criminal justice. The network commends the step already taken by the ICC in the case of Burundi and calls on the prosecutor of the ICC to take the next step to bring the alleged perpetrators of crimes to justice.
Victims’ Trust Fund of the ICC
- The network commends the Victims Trust Fund of the ICC in its efforts of providing considerable redress to victims in CAR and many other situations in Africa, but urges State Parties to the Rome Statutes to make more voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund.
- The network calls on all civil society organizations, human rights defenders, academics working on international justice, and bar associations across Africa to join the Network in order to increase coordination and commitment of the civil society to the fight against impunity for international crimes in the continent.
- The Network expresses gratitude to the government of Ethiopia for hosting the network’s meetings, and to diplomatic missions to the African Union in Addis Ababa that meet with the network’s delegation during the period of the meetings, including the missions of Nigeria, Burundi, Sudan, The Netherlands, European Union and the global Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) for its support to the African Network.
- Dated and adopted at Addis Ababa this day of 2018
- Signed by the following members of the African Network for International Criminal Justice
Nigerian Coalition for the ICC
Institute for Security Studies (ISS) South Africa
Southern African Litigation Center (SALC)
International Commission of Jurists Kenya section
Ivorian Coalition for the ICC
DRC Coalition for the ICC
Central African Republic Coalition for the ICC
Malian Coalition for the ICC
Burundian Coalition for the ICC
Ugandan Coalition for the ICC
Guinean Coalition for the ICC
Moroccan Coalition for the ICC
Moroccan Center for Peace and Law
Burkina Faso Coalition for the ICC