Spy agencies seek immunity for African leaders

Wednesday August 10 2016

African Union (AU) Commission chairperson

African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. PHOTO | FILE | REUTERS 

By ROBERT MBARAGA

Spy agencies from across Africa meeting in Kigali have recommended the International Criminal Court (ICC) to suspend arrest warrants and legal proceedings against African leaders.

The resolution arrived at by spy chiefs drawn from 51 African states concerns pending suits and indictments of leaders from countries applying universal jurisdiction and are ICC member states.

“Member services renew the African Union (AU) appeal for moratorium on all pending arrest warrants and prosecutions filed against African leaders or other high-ranking officials until discussions among stakeholders are concluded and the current stalemate is resolved” Conference for the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA) the document dubbed Kigali declaration and classified as confidential reads in part.

The heads of intelligence services said they are alarmed by the frequency of “selective indictments and threats of arrest warrants against African leaders” by the western judges which they say threatens to reverse Africa’s progress towards stability.

The African Union is set to drive this agenda, given that the role of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) is purely advisory.

International human rights organizations have warned that any move to halt the implementation of Universal Jurisdiction is against the rights of victims of Genocide, war crimes and crimes against Humanity.

“We have seen again and again that national courts are often unable or unwilling to prosecute such crimes.” Said Elise Keppler, the associate director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.

Pre-Trial stage

Cases that would be affected were the call to be considered include that of Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir and his former Minister of National Defence Raheem Muhammad Hussein.

Their cases are still in the Pre-Trial stage and will remain so until if they are arrested and surrendered to the court because the ICC does not try individuals unless they are present in the courtroom.

Also targeted are case pending in different European countries mainly against individuals from their former colonies.

The intelligence chiefs have criticised the issuance of universal jurisdiction indictment by a single judge and recommend that the decision to apply the principle always be approved by “higher judicial authority.”

This is a second collective attempt by African states to pause prosecution of African leaders.

The July 2008 general assembly of the AU had tasked the international community “in particular the EU States”, to put indictments against African leaders on hold until ‘all the legal and political issues have been exhaustively discussed between the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations.”

A move for collective withdrawal from the ICC by African states failed in Kigali, after some countries expressed reservation.