African chiefs of intelligence services are gathering in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday to debate on ways to counter indictments by Western countries that subject Africans to non-African jurisdiction.
This comes at a time when African leaders are increasingly facing pressure from the international community for human rights abuse and poor governance.
Under the auspices of the African Union, the spy chiefs from 51 countries will centre their discussion on “countering the growing threat of abuse of universal jurisdiction against Africa.”
“The gathering sends a clear message to the international community that Africa needs change in the way the principle is applied” observed Dr Alfred Mwenedata, an expert in international criminal law and the dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Kigali.
The African intelligence chiefs are expected to recommend to the African Union Commission what can be done to tackle what they refer to as “the seemingly intractable security challenges confronting Africa.”
Academicians believe that debating this issue as a bloc adds weight to the push that has been an initiative of some individual African countries.
Usually a state enjoys judicial jurisdiction over violations committed within its territory, but universal jurisdiction gives any country power to prosecute international crimes.
“Universal jurisdiction is good but it should be applied in good faith and equally to all states to reflect the principles of sovereignty and equality of states” said Rwanda Justice minister Johnston Busingye.
Rwanda has for long accused some countries of selectively using this principle, by disregarding to prosecute the 1994 Genocide fugitives.
Until recently, the principle had been applied to pirates, hijackers, and alike criminals whose offences were committed outside the territory of any state only.