Africa Group for Justice and Accountability Condemns Attacks against International Criminal Court and calls on States to Defend the Institution and its Staff

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Africa Group for Justice and Accountability Condemns Attacks against International Criminal Court and calls on States to Defend the Institution and its Staff

The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) condemns recent attacks by the U.S. government aimed at undermining the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC). AGJA calls on States to defend the Court and its independence, as well as its staff and their families.

On 11 June 2020, senior officials in the Trump Administration announced the approval of an executive order that would levy sanctions on ICC staff and their families. These sanctions would apply to individuals working on advancing investigations into alleged war crimes and crimes allegedly committed by the USA or its allies.

The Africa Group unequivocally condemns the actions of President Trump. The sanctions are aimed at creating fear among ICC staff. They undermine the independence of the Court’s investigations, as well as efforts to bring perpetrators of alleged atrocities to account in situations under investigation by the ICC.

The Africa Group notes that the USA has traditionally been a strong partner in bringing perpetrators of international crimes to account. It played a major and positive role in the creation and work of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda (ICTR) and the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Efforts by the USA continue to make positive contributions to global justice efforts, including the reward for the arrest of Félicien Kabuga, an alleged backer of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide and one of the last fugitives sought by the ICTR. More recently, on 10 June 2020, Michael Sang Correa was arrested in Colorado on suspicion of having tortured civilians in The Gambia under the direction of former President Yahya Jammeh.

The Africa Group notes with deep regret the withdrawal of the USA as a leader on global justice. The ICC, its staff and their families should be defended and not attacked by states. AGJA welcomes statements in support of the Court from a number of ICC member states and especially from the ten States Parties to the Rome Statute that are members of the Security Council.

The ICC is by no means a perfect institution, and important efforts at reform are currently under way. Nonetheless, the Court plays a uniquely indispensable role in furthering justice and accountability for international crimes. Its work must be encouraged, not thwarted. Its staff must be protected, not threatened. Its mission must be fostered, not undermined.

The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) supports efforts to strengthen justice and accountability measures in Africa through domestic and regional capacity building, advice and outreach, and enhancing co-operation between Africa and the International Criminal Court. It comprises senior African experts on international criminal law and human rights, including political figures, members of international and domestic tribunals, and human rights advocates:

  • Dapo Akande
    Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford
  • Richard J. Goldstone
    Former Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia
  • Hassan Bubacar Jallow
    Chief Justice of The Gambia, former Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
  • Tiyanjana Maluwa
    H. Laddie Montague Chair in Law, Pennsylvania State University School of Law
  • Athaliah Molokomme
    Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Botswana to Switzerland and the UN Office in Geneva, and former Attorney- General of Botswana
  • Betty Kaari Murungi
    Advocate of the High Court of Kenya
  • Mohamed Chande Othman
    Former Chief Justice of Tanzania
  • Navi Pillay
    Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Catherine Samba-Panza
    Former Transitional President of the Central African Republic
  • Fatiha Serour
    Director of Serour Associates for Inclusion and Equity, former UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia
  • Abdul Tejan-Cole
    Executive Director, African Studies Association