African Union press conference on immunity provisions

Last month the African Union met in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea where it adopted the ‘Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.’ (Incidentally, Equatorial Guinea has not signed the Protocol establishing the Court)

This Protocol has since been the subject of much comment and debate, in particular for its inclusion of an amendment to Article 46A bis of the Protocol on the Statute of the Court which imparts immunity against criminal charges for acting heads of state or government and other senior state officials. For more comment on this particular amendment see Paul Bradfield’s piece here, and Mark Kersten’s piece here.

Today Legal Counsel for the African Union Vincent Nmehielle gave a press conference on the amendments. Despite Professor Nmehielle’s best efforts to discuss other sections of the Protocol including the addition of several crimes not found under the Rome Statute (for example piracy and corruption), almost all the questions were about the immunity provision. His comments on immunity for leaders can be found approximately 26 minutes in to the conference, whilst his comments on immunity for ‘others’ starts around 30 minutes 50 seconds.

Also worth noting are Professor Nmehielle’s comments on the timeline for the creation of the new court, including its ambitious proposed  structure of a “general” chamber handling trade issues and conflict between states, a “human rights chamber” handling work similar to the current Court and the “criminal chamber” handling international criminal law trials. These comments can be found around 32 minutes in.

The video of the press conference can be seen here. Please note that the conference does not start until about 6 minutes in to the video so best to skip forward.

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