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Opinion
Where immunity means impunityPublish Date: Dec 21, 2013
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By Douglas Lukoba Iga

The African Union Summit decision calls for immunity for sitting officials before international courts. However, the relevance of official capacity at the ICC under Article 27 of the Rome Statute is at the core of its mission to ensure that those responsible for grave crimes are held to account.

Victims should not be denied justice because individuals hold powerful positions. This has been a cornerstone of international law since the post-world war two trials at Nuremberg, and article 143(4) of the Kenyan constitutional notably prohibits presidential immunity for crimes “under any treaty to which Kenya is party and which prohibits “immunity.

This is the very reason President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are wanted by the ICC. Being sitting presidents shall not be used as an escapee route by leaders for it shall be the very reason for their clinging on to power in fear of being executed. Kenya being a signatory to the Rome Statute and their constitution under Article 143(4) prohibiting presidential immunity for crimes under any treaty to which Kenya is party.

Immunity and impunity should not be our major debate but rather a serious eye opener to all leaders to notably respect all dignities be it rich, poor, nationals and foreigners for there to be true justice there needs to be respect for all human rights, freedoms and liberties not only for a few but to all be it young or old.

All those found guilty of war crimes and crimes committed against humanity must be brought to book irrespective of what positions they so hold in their countries, that is whether sitting presidents, those out of power, rebel leaders and those found to be abettors or accessories to these crimes.

So, I would notably argue that sometimes immunity may mean impunity if leaders are protected from their crimes and a crime should be treated as a crime, and that’s why the likes of Charles Taylor are now in the UK jail serving his sentence as a means of seeing justice at play on the international scene.

The writer is a lawyer with-Advocate Public International Law Uganda (APILU)

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