Kenya’s Head of State President William Ruto has signed an international protocol which will see him immune to prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
The Malabo Protocol of the Constitutive Act of the African Union signed by President William Ruto on July 24, now means the ICC cannot directly press charges against him on the grounds that he has committed a crime.
The AU adopted the Malabo Protocol in 2014 with the aim of introducing a regional accountability mechanism and reinforcing the concept of African solutions for African problems
Ruto signature marks the commencement of a three-month process that will see Kenya’s president granted immunity.
Ruto, in case he commits an offence, will have to undergo AU procedures first before the ICC takes over the matter.
Details of the Act indicate that senior state officials will also not be prosecuted for similar violations until they leave office.
In Article 4 of the Act, the AU states that it has the right to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances before any other third party.
The circumstances include; war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity as well as a serious threat to legitimate order to restore peace and stability to the Member States of the Union.
According to the Act, the AU will only intervene upon the recommendation of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union.
The PSC of the Union remains the standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts in its member states.
The PSC functions, powers, composition, and organization shall be determined by the Assembly and set out in a protocol relating thereto.
In 2016, the AU Ministerial Committee on the ICC resolved to continue with the push for mass withdrawal from the court.
In a meeting in Addis Ababa, the ministers resolved that Africa will withdraw unless the court gives immunity to sitting heads of state and government as well as senior government officials.
They also demanded there should be recognition of the primacy of African judicial mechanisms and AU decision-making organs over the ICC.
The ministers also said there must be a reduction of the powers of the prosecutor.
“Provisions of the African Union charter and constitutive act as well as the decisions of the AU Assembly must be respected and take precedent over the Rome Statute and decisions of any other organ,” the ministers said.