African Journal of International Criminal Justice


Examining the domestic legal framework in selected African States that form part of the situational docket of the International Criminal Court

Keywords International Criminal Court, Africa, domestic reforms, positive complementarity
Authors Geoffrey Lugano
Author's information

Geoffrey Lugano
Geoffrey Lugano is a lecturer of Politics at the Department of History, Archaeology and Political Studies, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Abstract

      Against the backdrop of recent calls for reforms at the International Criminal Court (ICC), this paper examines the domestic legal framework in selected African States that form part of the situational docket of the Court as of the time of writing. Particularly, the paper assesses the missing gaps that cause lags in cooperation with the ICC, in the experience of African States and structural and other issues that should be revisited. Building on the cases of Kenya, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, and Central African Republic (CAR), the paper establishes that African States have varying degrees of domestic legal reforms towards compliance with the ICC’s system of justice, and have made missteps that undermine their abilities to effectively confront impunity for alleged perpetrators of atrocity crimes. The States’ compliance levels are dependent on their methods of implementing the Rome Statute, and the political contexts under which the legal reforms unfold. Beyond the shortcomings in legal reform, the African States are confronted with rival normative frameworks, including amnesty, reconciliatory tones, and traditional justice mechanisms that have implications on their abilities to perform their primary responsibilities in accountability for core international crimes. As a remedial action to the States’ inadequacies in implementing the provisions of the Rome Statute, this paper recommends concerted efforts towards activating national and regional advocacy on ratification of recent amendments to the Statute in order to enhance their complete criminalization of core international crimes. The paper also calls for the activation of ‘positive complementarity’ as a framework for addressing state capacity gaps, including training national officials in drafting amendments to the ICC implementing legislations, and improving the understanding of national legislators on the missing links in their respective legal orders, and the need for amendments.

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