African states can try their own lead­ers: Dlamini-Zuma

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

PRE­TO­RIA — Africa has the mech­a­nisms to try lead­ers ac­cused of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, African Union com­mis­sion chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said yes­ter­day.

She would not comment on South Africa’s de­ci­sion to with­draw from the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court, say­ing it was its sovereign right.

“The African Union com­mis­sion has no stand­ing in the ICC.

“We are not mem­bers of the ICC. It’s a purely sovereign de­ci­sion for each coun­try to join or pull out. As I am chair of African Union com­mis­sion I will not comment on that,” Dlamini-Zuma said on the side­lines of an African ed­i­tors’ and press of­fi­cers’ meet­ing in Pre­to­ria.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Ma­sutha an­nounced on Fri­day that South Africa would with­draw from the Rome Statute of the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court, due to a con­flict be­tween its obli­ga­tions to the AU and the ICC.

Dlamini-Zuma said for­mer Chad pres­i­dent His­sen Habre’s trial was an ex­am­ple that the con­ti­nent could pros­e­cute its lead­ers.

He was charged with hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing rape and sex­ual slav­ery, and or­der­ing the killings of thou­sands of peo­ple. In May this year, he be­came the first African pres­i­dent to be found guilty in an African court. He was sen­tenced to life in jail.

“At a con­ti­nen­tal level, the for­mer pres­i­dent of Chad has been tried in an African court, in an African coun­try, agreed by the AU, funded by the AU, with the judges com­ing from Africa.

He was tried for atroc­i­ties and was found guilty by an African court. Of course now he is ap­peal­ing,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

South Africa has faced crit­i­cism for its de­ci­sion to with­draw from ICC. Crit­ics said it would al­low lead­ers to act with im­punity.

Dlamini-Zuma urged coun­tries to strengthen their courts.

“The ICC is the court of last in­stance. The first in­stance is na­tional courts. They must be strength­ened so that they can deal with sit­u­a­tions as they arise,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

South Africa de­cided to with­draw from ICC af­ter it was found to have con­tra­vened the court’s Rome Statute when it failed to ar­rest Su­danese pres­i­dent Omar al-Bashir while he was in the coun­try for a two­day AU sum­mit in June 2015.

The ICC has is­sued war­rants for his ar­rest and wants him to stand trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against hu­man­ity, and geno­cide. — Al Jazeera

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