AFRICAN Heads of State and Government are considering the establishment of an independent judiciary body to handle matters for the continent and watch over adherence to good governance, fairness and disallow impunity.
The pledge comes in the wake of a joint communiqué issued on Saturday at the end of an extra-ordinary meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the auspices of the African Union (AU) whereby, among other deliberations, member states expressed reservations on the operation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Briefing the media in Dar es Salaam on the main agenda of the two-day Africa Assembly of State parties in Addis Ababa, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe, said that due to bias-related criticism against the ICC, the continent considers having its own court to impartially address matters related to governance.
According to the minister, among other issues agreed upon, the AU has decided that from now on, no sitting African leader would be liable to appear before the ICC. Also, for any country with a constitution that recognises the deputy president portfolio, sitting vice-president should not appear before ICC while serving in office. "Any African leader known to have committed crimes against humanity or violation of human rights can face court charges after completion of a term in office," Mr Membe said.
Commenting on the proposal for a pull-out of 34 African member states, which happened to have ratified the ICC protocol, the continental body observed that it was too early to make a final statement as individual member countries are scheduled to hold a joint meeting in The Netherlands on November 29 to decide on the same. Each will be represented by a foreign affairs and legal minister.
Clarifying on measures taken to suspend pending charges facing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto at the ICC, the minister said the AU has already communicated with the president of the UN Security Council, the custodian of ICC, to issue instructions to the court to postpone the proceedings until they end their terms in office.
Both are accused of orchestrating post-election violence in 2007. The resentment by AU is perhaps stemmed from the reality that out of 30 cases pending in the ICC, 27 indictments implicate Africans.
Asked on the position of Tanzania -- whether it should withdraw her membership from the ICC-- Mr Membe said the National Assembly had endorsed membership to ICC and it should be the same body that could deliberate on the matter accordingly.
ICC's Chief Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, has consistently rejected charges that the court is prejudiced against Africa. She was also quoted as saying that it was true that Africans are the accused in cases currently before the court.