Leaders at African summit vote to have immunity from war crimes and genocide prosecution
Journalists were excluded from the session in Equatorial Guinea
Leaders at an African summit have voted to give themselves immunity from prosecution for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide at a new African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
The continent already has two sitting presidents and one ousted president facing charges at the International Criminal Court.
The vote took place on Friday at an African Union summit vote in Equatorial Guinea, during a session journalists were excluded from, and news of it was only mentioned in a statement about the outcome of the summit on Monday, according to Amnesty International.
It came to light in a paragraph listing legal instruments agreed at the meeting included the "Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights".
The amendment bars the court from prosecuting sitting African leaders and vaguely identified "senior officials". It was objected to by forty-two African and international civil society and rights groups.
The decision was condemned by Amnesty International as "a backward step in the fight against impunity and a betrayal of victims of serious violations of human rights".
Amnesty's Netsanet Belay said: "At a time when the African continent is struggling to ensure that there is accountability for serious human-rights violations and abuses, it is impossible to justify this decision which undermines the integrity of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, even before it becomes operational."
Ahead of the vote, Simon Allison of the South African-based Institute for Security Studies warned: "There are enough compromised African leaders who might stand to benefit from the immunity on offer."
He argued guaranteed immunity for presidents and senior officials might actually encourage African states to engage more enthusiastically with the proposed new court, and to abide by its rulings.
"If Africa's leaders aren't worrying about their own fate, they won't have anything to lose by cooperating," he added.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 5 UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...