Kenyan President William Ruto has recently secured immunity against prosecution by the International Criminal Court by signing the Malabo Protocol of the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
This move grants him protection from any charges brought by the ICC, as well as reinforcing the concept of African solutions for African problems.
The Malabo Protocol was adopted by the African Union in 2014, and its main aim is to introduce a regional accountability mechanism. The protocol also ensures that senior state officials, including President Ruto, are immune from prosecution for any crimes they may commit while in office. This immunity remains in place until they leave office.
The signing of the protocol by President Ruto on July 24 marks the beginning of a three-month process that will ultimately grant him immunity. According to the details of the Act, in case President Ruto commits an offense, the African Union will handle the matter first before the ICC can take over.
Article 4 of the Act gives the African Union the right to intervene in a Member State under certain grave circumstances. These circumstances include war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and any serious threat to legitimate order in order to restore peace and stability to the Member States of the Union.
President Ruto’s decision to sign the Malabo Protocol has sparked a mixed reaction both within Kenya and internationally. Supporters argue that this move is a significant step towards ensuring that African leaders are not unfairly targeted by international organizations. They believe that Africa should be able to handle its own issues and seek justice within its own legal frameworks.
On the other hand, critics argue that this move undermines the principles of justice and accountability. They raise concerns about the potential for abuses of power and the lack of international oversight. They argue that no individual, regardless of their position, should be above the law, and that international bodies such as the ICC play a crucial role in ensuring justice for victims of grave crimes.
According to the Act, the AU will only intervene upon the recommendation of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. This provision outlines the importance of the PSC in the decision-making process regarding conflict prevention, management, and resolution in member states.
The PSC, as the standing decision-making organ, plays a crucial role in maintaining peace and security within the African continent. Its functions, powers, composition, and organization are determined by the Assembly and set out in a protocol specific to this purpose. This structured approach ensures that the PSC operates efficiently and effectively in fulfilling its mandate.
In 2016, the AU Ministerial Committee on the International Criminal Court made an important decision regarding the involvement of Africa with this international judicial body. During a meeting held in Addis Ababa, the ministers resolved to continue with the push for mass withdrawal from the court.
One of the key demands made during this meeting was for the ICC to grant immunity to sitting heads of state and government, as well as senior government officials. This demand stems from the belief that such immunity is necessary to facilitate peaceful resolutions and negotiations, particularly in conflict situations. The ministers also emphasized the need for recognition of the primacy of African judicial mechanisms and AU decision-making organs over the ICC.
Additionally, the ministers expressed their concerns over the powers of the ICC prosecutor and called for a reduction in these powers. They argued that provisions of the African Union charter and constitutive act, as well as decisions made by the AU Assembly, should take precedence over the Rome Statute and decisions of any other organ.
This bold stance by the AU Ministerial Committee reflects the ongoing debates and discussions surrounding the role of the ICC in the African context. Several African countries have criticized the court for its perceived bias against African leaders and its failure to fully consider the political context in which certain crimes are committed.
However, it is important to note that these statements and demands made by the ministers do not necessarily reflect the official position of the AU as a whole. The mass withdrawal from the ICC remains a controversial topic, and any decision regarding this matter would require a thorough consultation process involving all member states.