The African criminal court, a dream comes closer

09 July 2014 by Abdullahi Boru, Nairobi (Kenya)

After four years of discussions, the African Union (AU) has agreed the statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights – a merger of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Court of Justice. Heads of state adopted the protocol during a summit held in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) on 26 June; but the long-expected dream of an African criminal court may take years to become reality and has already attracted many questions about its effectiveness.

On paper, the new African court birth certificate is more progressive than the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s founding document, the Rome Statute. It includes 14 types of crimes, including war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, but also extends its jurisdiction to other crimes like terrorism, the crime of aggression, the crime of unconstitutional change of government, money laundering, trafficking in hazardous wastes, illicit exploitation of natural resources – with individual and corporate criminal responsibilities considered, not state’s. Once operational at its seat in Arusha, Tanzania, this wide mandate would be given to three chambers – pre-trial, trial and appellate – distributed into three sections: general affairs, human and people’s rights, and international criminal law.

The hard work of ratifications begins

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