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July 17, 2015

African MPs support the ICC system as the ultimate safeguard against impunity

On 20 August 2002, the United Republic of Tanzania ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), marking the country’s entrance into the club of international law-abiding nations, working together to end impunity.

Recurrently, we have witnessed the commission of mass atrocities: genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of war and crimes of aggression, in neighboring countries and around the world; an affront to the intrinsic values of humanity.

As a response to the detractors of the Court, and to address the false idea that Africans do not want the ICC, the African continent has thirty-four (34) member States, thirty-three (33) of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa. African Members of Parliament are supportive of the Rome Statute system as it embodies the ultimate safeguard from government-sanctioned abuses and injustice, and it provides a forum for all victims of crimes of international concern that shock the conscience of humanity. The ICC is a protective barrier for the oppressed, more particularly when the oppression is carried-out with government sanctioned barbarity.

In order to appropriately address the heinous crimes that have marred the history of Africa, we needed a Court before which those responsible of committing the worse crimes of international concern could be held accountable. It is to be said that national jurisdiction may either lack capacity or political will, particularly when under the yoke of those in power. Only then, can the Court’s jurisdiction be triggered. The ICC does not erode the sovereignty of States; it is complementary to national jurisdictions. The primary responsibility to prosecute the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, stands with the national jurisdictions The ICC steps in when our States may fail, for the benefit of African victims: hence, the ICC is a measure of reinforcement of our sovereignty!

The ICC is a Court of last resort that protects victims’ rights and fights to preserve the dignity of the human person, democracy, and the rule of law, against impunity. The Rome Statute system is a safeguard of the values we stand for, democracy, the rule of law, reparative justice for victims, and human rights inherent to the nature of all human beings.

The United Republic of Tanzania ratified the Rome Statute because the country wanted to protect its people against anyone who would commit the most serious international crimes, regardless of official capacity, rank or status, so as to put an end to an era of impunity.

We, Parliamentarians from Africa, will continue bolstering the ICC because we believe that our people deserve a voice in a universal justice system in which there is no place for impunity.

This piece is part of HU’s ongoing guest series on Africa and the International Criminal Court. Follow the discussion at

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