Addis Ababa, 22 November 2013/ ACP: Legislators from Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific meeting for the 34th ACP Parliamentary Assembly spoke vigorously on the rule of law and the role of judiciary in their countries, with some MPs backing a declaration against recent proceedings of the UN’s International Criminal Court involving serving African leaders.
The ACP Secretary General opened the plenary, which serves to prepare and strategize for the joint sessions with EU parliamentarians, highlighting the importance of strong institutions and the “right culture of governance”.
“Governance and leadership remain the greatest challenge of our era…We need institutions that deliver and governments that are accountable and sensitive to the needs of the populace,” Secretary General Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni told the meeting.
The Chair of the Political Affairs Committee, Samoan MP Hon. Lautafi Selafi Purcell presented a proposed ACP-EU resolution on the rule of law and the role of an impartial and independent judiciary. The text stressed the need for the separation of powers, robust state structures and supporting institutions, while tackling corruption. It also included an article endorsing the work of the International Criminal Court in its fight against impunity.
But in the course of discussions, several MPs expressed strong opinions on the fairness and effectiveness of the ICC in some of its procedures.
Speaker of the Ethiopian House of Representatives Hon. Abadula Gemeda Dago said the topic was a “current burning issue of Africa”.
“The ICC is targeting African leaders elected by the people, breaching the sovereignty of the country and the people,” he asserted.
The complaints mainly stem from the case of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, who are accused of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence after Kenya’s 2007 election that left more than 1,100 people dead, and more than half a million displaced. Both have denied the charges.
Meanwhile, a delegate from Ghana said the situation in Kenya is due to the “lack of rule of law”, adding that “people don’t have confidence that African countries respect the rule of law with strong judiciary systems”.
MP from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hon. Christophe Lutundula stated that the responsibility lies with ACP states to strengthen their own legal and governance institutions in order to have standing with the international community.
Others maintained their support for the ICC institution, but expressed unease with certain ways of handling high profile cases.
Hon. Dago proposed that ACP make a declaration to support the concerns already raised by Heads of States of the African Union on the ICC issue, while also highlighting the prevailing importance of national reconciliation and healing.
Discussions on the issue continue on Wednesday 27th November.
(Photo: ACP Secretary General H.E Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Chair of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly Hon. Joyce Laboso of Kenya, and ACP Assistant Secretary General in Charge of Political Affairs and Human Development Mme. Michele Domonique Raymond at the plenary session of the ACP assembly)
– Press ACP