|Colonel Gaddafi, Libyan Leader (pix: onislam)|
The African Union (AU) has vowed not to cooperate in the execution of an arrest warrant on the embattled Libyan leader Colonel Maumar Gaddafi issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) a few months ago.
The decision was reached by the Assembly of Heads of States during the 17th AU Summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea from June 23-July 1, 2011, under the Theme: “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”.
“The warrant of arrest issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber concerning Colonel Gaddafi, seriously complicates the efforts aimed at finding a negotiated political solution to the crisis in Libya, which will also address, in a mutually-reinforcing way, issues relating to impunity and reconciliation,” the Assembly agreed. “In this regard, the Assembly decided that AU Member States shall not cooperate in the execution of the arrest warrant, and requested the United Nations Security Council to activate the provisions of Article 16 of the Rome Statute with a view to deferring the ICC process on Libya, in the interest of Justice as well as peace in the country.”
The AU also expressed deep concerns at the manner in which the ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo is handling the situation in Libya which was referred to the ICC by the Security Council through Resolution 1973 (2011). The ICC Chief Prosecutor is also seeking the arrest of Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam and his brother-in-law, the intelligence chief, Abdullah Sanussi, on similar charges.
Last month, the international police agency, INTERPOL issued a Red Notice Alert (an arrest warrant) for Gaddafi, his son (Saif Al-Islam) and his intelligence chief (Abdullah Sanussi), apparently to reinforce the indictment issued by the ICC on charges of war crimes.
On September 29, the World police organization, INTERPOL also published another Red Notice for Saadi Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi's sons, following accusations by the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) that he misappropriated properties during his tenure as the head of the Libyan Football Federation.
A similar “non-compliance” with an ICC arrest warrant on Sudan leader Omar Hassan Al-Bashir was adopted last year by the AU Assembly following his indictment to answer to charges of war crimes a few years ago.
Since then, three African countries, Djibouti, Kenya, and Chad have all received President Bashir with open arms, and have failed to arrest him and hand him over to The Hague.
On the contrary, the AU reaffirm that by receiving President Bashir, the Republic of Chad, Kenya, and Djibouti were discharging their obligations under Article 23 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and Article 98 of the Rome Statute as well as acting in pursuit of peace and stability in their respective regions.
It also requested the Commission in collaboration with the Permanent Representatives’ Committee, to reflect on how best Africa’s interests can be fully defended and protected in the international judicial system and to actively pursue the implementation of the Assembly’s Decisions on the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights so that it is empowered to try serious international crimes committed on African soil.
African leaders have now tasked the African Union Commission, the AUC, to follow-up on this matter and to report regularly on the implementation of the various Assembly decisions on ICC, but maintains that only a political solution will make it possible to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people and preserve the unity and territorial integrity of the country, citing the decision on a peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis adopted at its Extraordinary Session held on 25th May 2011.
Former Chadian leader, Hissene Habre has also been in a long-standing stumped extradition to Belgium where he would stand trial on allegations of war crimes. Habre has been living in exile in Senegal since 1992.
In June 2011, Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade announced that his government is ready to extradite Mr Habre, apparently to shift away international concerns on his country’s democratic setback when he attempted to change the electoral laws. His attempt sparked wide-violent protests in Senegal.
However, during the recently concluded AU Summit in Malabo, the Assembly reiterated its decision in January 2011 confirming the mandate given to Senegal to try Hissene Habre on behalf of Africa and urged Senegal to carry out its legal responsibility in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Torture; the decision of the United Nations (UN) Committee against Torture; and to put Hissene Habre on trial expeditiously or extradite him to any other country willing to put him on trial.
- Author: Modou S. Joof for The Voice Newspaper