(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

No trials for African heads of state

Judge's gavel

Alleged war criminals, including heads of states, cannot be targeted by the newly created African Court of Justice and Human Rights, which once functional will become the legal arm of the African Union.

Rather, the court will rule only on cases brought against states, unlike the International Criminal Court, which issues individual arrest warrants.

Unless a state waives the requirement, alleged victims and NGOs cannot lodge cases against it in the new court without going through the AU, which makes human rights compliance dependent on the regional body, according to an analysis by the UK research group, Chatham House.

As of March 2009 no states have ratified the court, created in July 2008. States are willing to set up pan-African institutions to protect human rights, but are not so eager to “submit themselves to true scrutiny”, Chatham House wrote.


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