The long–strained relationship between Africa and the International Criminal Court (ICC) recently reached the highest point of tension. For a long time, since the entry into force in 2002 of the Rome Statute, the African continent has been the Court’s almost–exclusive focus of attention, which sparked criticisms for a perceived bias in the administration of international justice. Such tension culminated in an “ICC withdrawal strategy” adopted by the African Union (AU), in January of this year, under the impulse of some countries.
The cases of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and vice-President William Ruto, indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity and, the former, also for genocide, marked a turning point for Africa’s continental engagement with the ICC.
In September, 2013 the Parliament voted to withdraw Kenya out of the ICC, being the second time it made this move. There is currently a bill pending in parliament seeking to repeal the ICC/Rome Statute’s implementation statute, the International Crimes Act.
At its Twelfth Ordinary Session in February 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Assembly of the African Union requested the Commission of the African Union “in consultation with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to examine the implications of the Court being empowered to try international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”.