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Monday, November 12, 2012

Increasing the Jurisdiction of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights


Since the decision by the African Union in July of this year to propose adopting a Draft Protocol increasing the jurisdiction of the African Court to try international crimes; there has been a whole lot of debate and criticism surrounding the issue. It’s been said that this is the African Union’s (AU) way of getting back at the International Criminal Court (ICC), given their already troubled relationship. Also there has been talk about the ‘the hurried process’ surrounding the Draft Protocol; the assumption that Africans want to be  tried by an African Court only; the subject matter of the courts jurisdiction; resource and financing issues; lack of experienced personnel and judges; insufficient capabilities and manpower in dealing with large scale, future investigations; incompatible mandates between the human rights section of the African court and its international criminal law section and the list goes on…  For more information on some of these criticisms you can read Max du Plessis’s recent blog post on Ejiltalk and Frans Viljoen’s post on AfricLaw.
While there are, indeed an array of concerns and questions, academics are rarely commenting on the positives that increased jurisdiction of the African Court may bring to the table for Africa and the international community. The problem is that we focus so much on the negatives, that we forget that there are reasons why such a Court may be beneficial. My own view on the issue is that an African Court could benefit Africa and the international community for a myriad of reasons, some of them include: