AU Assembly should consider human rights implications before adopting the Amending Merged African Court ProtocolPosted: 23 May, 2012
A radical change to the ever-altering African regional judicial landscape is looming large. Meeting in Addis Ababa in mid May 2012, the African Union (AU) ‘Government Experts and Ministers of Justice/Attorneys General on Legal Matters’ adopted the AU – Final Court Protocol – As adopted by the Ministers 17 May (Amending Merged Court Protocol, Exp/Min/IV/Rev.7, 15 May 2012). This draft will in all likelihood serve before the meeting of the AU Heads of State and Government (AU Assembly), to be held in July, in Malawi. If adopted by the AU Assembly, the Protocol will confer upon the to-be-established African Court of Justice and Human Rights the jurisdiction to convict and sentence individuals for international crimes. This paper aims to highlight some concerns, particularly from a human rights angle, about the Amending Merged Court Protocol, in its current form, and argues that the complex implications arising from the suggested amendments require more deliberation and broad inclusive discussion.
In November 2011 a Kenyan High Court Judge made history. Justice Nicholas Ombija made a controversial ruling issuing an arrest warrant for President Omar Al- Bashir of Sudan in the event he visits the Republic of Kenya. The arrest warrant was held as valid pending a full Appeal on Tuesday 20 December 2011 by the Kenya Court of Appeal after the Attorney General, Githu Muigai, rushed to court claiming that Judge Ombija’s ruling was creating ‘international anxiety in International circles’. The Attorney General of Kenya appealed the ruling on the arrest warrant and also applied for a stay on the arrest. The stay was denied pending hearing of the appeal. ICJ-Kenya has raised a preliminary objection citing that the Attorney General of Kenya under the 2010 constitution is not the competent representative of the Kenya Government in criminal cases like the All Bashir case. His decision upheld, Justice Ombija issued a provisional arrest warrant for President Bashir on Monday 23 January 2012. It was served on the Minister of Internal Security, Geroge Saitoti, ordering him to arrest President Bashir and hand him over to the ICC if he steps on Kenyan soil.