PRESS RELEASE N°037/2012
“The African Union has a clear and unequivocal mandate to fight impunity”
Addis Ababa, 14th of May – Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the African Union (AU) gathered today, 14 May 2012 at the Headquarters of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to reflect on legal matters and instruments pertaining to the fight against impunity. The meeting elected Prof. Githu Muigai, the Attorney General of Kenya, as Chairperson. It also elected Ministers of Gabon, Mauritania, Nigeria and Zimbabwe to the Bureau.
“The African Union is unique in that it has a clear and unequivocal mandate to fight impunity” declared Mr Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission at the onset of the meeting.
Indeed during this two-day session, Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General are expected to examine the draft Model National Legislation on Universal Jurisdiction which will allow African countries “to overcome the constraints in exercising the principle of universal jurisdiction”. They will also consider the Progress Report of the AU Commission on the implementation of Assembly Decisions on the International Criminal Court (ICC). In this regard, Mr Mwencha recalled that Africa fully supported the establishment of the ICC. “Out of the current parties to the Statute, 33 are African States, thus constituting statistically, the largest regional block of members. Furthermore, all the situations handled by the ICC are in Africa, with all but three referred to the court by States Parties”. However, he reiterated the grave concerns raised by the Assembly on the double standards of the UN Security Council and the conduct of the outgoing prosecutor.
The meeting will also examine the draft Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human and People’s Rights which was elaborated pursuant to decision Assembly AU/AU/Dec.213 (XII) adopted by the 12th Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government in January 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, within the context of the abusive application of the principle of Universal Jurisdiction. This review is aimed at evaluating the implications of the Court being empowered to try international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Finally, the Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General will consider the Draft Protocol Relating to the Pan African Parliament, especially the definition of the crime of unconstitutional change of government. “In order to rid the continent of the scourge of unconstitutional changes of government, which adversely impact on socio-economic and political development of the continent, there is need for a concerted effort at every level to ensure that coup d’états become less and less attractive” insisted Mr Mwencha.
Mr. Mwencha further underscored the importance of this process in enhancing the effectiveness of the Pan African Parliament which he stated emanated from a decision of the Assembly requesting the Commission to initiate the review process of the Protocol in accordance with Article 25 of the Constitutive Act relating to the Pan African parliament.
Ever since its inception, the African Union has been putting legal matters at the center of its preoccupations, hence various tools that can be used by countries and their citizens to defend their rights and help them resolve conflicts, such as the African Court on Human and People’s Rights or the Peace and Security Council Protocol. Though perhaps not sufficiently advertised on the continent, it is necessary to acknowledge their importance and relevance.
The newly appointed bureau of the meeting is composed as follows:
- Kenya - East (Chairperson)
- Nigeria - West :
- Mauritania - North :
- Zimbabwe - South :
- Gabon - Central:
This ministerial session is ending on May 15th. The recommendations and the final outcomes will be submitted for consideration and adoption to the AU Assembly which will take place in July 2012 in Lilongwe, Malawi.