Impunity for the Powerful: The African Union & the International Criminal Court

Arnold Wehmhoerner, FEPS Correspondent for Southern Africa 29/10/2013

The decision by the African Union Extraordinary Assembly that “no charges shall be commenced or continued before any International Court or Tribunal against any serving AU Head of State or Government” raised serious questions about the relationship between the AU and International Criminal Court. Criticisms of the ICC rounded on its alleged “selective justice” and use as an instrument of the former colonial powers. Yet of the 32 cases currently before the court, only 3 were referred from external sources. Thus, it is the case that African leaders are being referred for prosecution by fellow Africans. The debate now rages on as to whether the present stand is a matter of asserting independence or of closing ranks and covering up serious abuses. The struggle that unfolds will be of much greater significance internally in Africa than with any other, external actor."