The New Dawn (Monrovia)

13 July 2012

Africa: War Crimes Court for Africa?

The African Union's Human Rights Commission seated in Banjul, The Gambia could be used as Africa's War Crimes Court in trying those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on the continent.

The Court, when established, will try those bearing the greatest responsibility of human rights violations and humanitarian human rights laws against innocent people during conflicts.

According to reports monitored on the British Broadcasting Corporation's Network Africa Program Thursday, the item on the agenda of Africa setting-up its own War Crimes Court will form part of the AU meeting. It comes ahead of Saturday, 14 July Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Summit of African heads of states and governments. It is expected to assemble the continent 54 countries.

The agenda is being prepared by the continent's foreign ministers of various countries. The reports said though the suggestion could be welcomed, the issue of implementation will be difficult when approved. There are two United Nations-backed tribunals on the continent that are trying those Africans accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on their own people.

They are the Tanzania-based Arusha court which is trying those accused of committing heinous crimes during the course of the Rwandan civil war in which more than 1 million people were killed in 1994 and the Special Court for Sierra Leone which is prosecuting those who might have borne the greatest weight of that country's 10-year conflict in which thousands of people died.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) which came into being in 2002 and sitting in The Hague, Nederland has indicted several Africans for war crimes and crimes against humanity, among them President Omar El-Bashar of Sudan Republic, former presidents Hessie Habre of Chad and Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast. Others are Charles Ble-Goulde of Ivory Coast, General Bosco Ntaganda of M23 (March 23rd) rebel movement in the DR Congo and others.

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