African Leaders Urged to Support Continental Court

Arusha, Tanzania: African leaders have been asked to support the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights if they are to avoid the International Criminal Court (ICC) which is dreaded by many.

Dr. Dieu-Donne Wedi Djamba, the CEO of the Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and People’s Rights was on Wednesday speaking at a pilot training for editors in Arusha, Tanzania.

”When you say you don’t want the ICC then you have to build capacity of your own court. Why did you establish a court that you cannot allow to work”, said Dr. Djamba.

He was on Wednesday addressing participants during a four-day training workshop for senior journalists and editor at Naura Springs Hotel Arusha, Tanzania, facilitated by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and GIZ.

Currently, only 28 out of the 54 African Union member states have ratified the protocol that establishes the court and of these only 7 have made a declaration and deposited it at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr Djamba cited delays in ratification and declaration of the protocol to the charter which establishes the court by African Union member states as one of the major challenges affecting it’s operations.

In East Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi have ratified but are yet to make a special declaration of the protocol. This means that currently the court cannot receive cases from these countries.
Dr. Djamba also said that limited funding had held back the coalition’s work on increasing visibility of the African Court.

He added that the operations of the court are largely facilitated by the AU whose membership fees are not paid up by many countries. ”We don’t have the power to threaten countries what we do that is within our mandate is to advocate for ratification and declaration of the protocol.

Besides funding Dr. Djamba said many political leaders have a misconception that if they ratify the protocol and deposit the Declaration they will easily be sued and damage the image of state protection of it’s citizens and good governance.

Speaking at the same event, Mr. Jenerali Ulimwengu a veteran Tanzanian journalist and lawyer said funds can be found if there’s a will. ”Africans can only find money when they want to go war”, he added.