20 March 2017

Africa: Across Africa, People Yearn for the Rule of Law - and Are Not Afraid to Demand It Anymore

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Lady Justice, an iconic image of the legal system (file photo).
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Across Africa, government is being held accountable not by global justice, but in courts a long way from The Hague, as citizens turn the tables on those in power. By GEOFF HILL.

It's not just the International Criminal Court (ICC) that should worry the presidential palace, if events are anything to go by. Over and again, leaders used to getting their way have lost to NGOs, opposition parties and ordinary citizens who approached the local bench.

This month, South Africa reversed its decision to leave the ICC after a challenge in the Pretoria High Court by the opposition Democratic Alliance. Three judges ruled in favour of the DA that the withdrawal was at odds with the Constitution.

But the very act of leaving stemmed from an effort by the group Lawyers for Human Rights to force an arrest of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir who, in June 2015, attended a conference in South Africa. A warrant from The Hague on a charge of genocide meant any ICC member was compelled to detain him on sight.

Jacob Zuma and his ministers hatched a plan to get al-Bashir out of the country and, since then, no one wanted by the ICC has dared...

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