Addis Ababa: The International Criminal Court should drop or suspend charges against Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto until African concerns about the court and proposals to change its founding treaty are considered, African leaders say.
The demand came in a report on Saturday on previous decisions made by African Union leaders.
The African Union has accused the ICC of disproportionately targeting Africans. The court has indicted only Africans so far, although half of the eight cases it is prosecuting were referred to it by African governments themselves.
Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang have been charged with crimes against humanity for their alleged role in orchestrating Kenya’s 2007-08 post-election violence. Their trial is under way at the ICC. More than 1,000 people died and 600,000 others were forced to flee their homes amid violence sparked by a flawed presidential election.
Similar charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta were dropped in December after the prosecution said it did not have enough evidence against him. Kenyatta and Ruto were on opposing sides of the post-election violence but joined forces to win the presidency in the March 2013 polls.
The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir for failing to respond to summons to answer to charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the violence in Darfur.
Bashir remains at large and refuses to recognise the court’s authority. He has travelled freely to some African countries that are parties to the statute that created the ICC but they have refused to arrest him as required.
The AU has been heavily criticised by rights groups for calling for a halt to ICC cases against African leaders, with rights groups saying the African Union encourages impunity. Last year, the AU passed a resolution not to allow a sitting head of state or deputy to be prosecuted at the ICC.