ADDIS ABABA - African ministers of Justice and Attorneys General have slammed the recent indictments issued by foreign judges to African leaders saying it was an attack on the sovereignty of states. This was declared on Friday in a meeting they held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. "The abuse of the principle of "universal Jurisdiction" by some non-African States is a great affront to sovereignty of States," reads a draft declaration by ministers signed on April 18.
The declaration was made following a presentation at the meeting by Rwandan Justice Minister, Tharcisse Karugamara, on the recent indictments by Spanish Judge Fernando Merelles to 40 officers of the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF). "These Judges seek to exercise political power over independent sovereign states hiding behind "Judicial Independence" intentionally abused to serve their neo-colonial ambitions to control and dominate the targeted countries," Karugarama told the meeting.
The ministers, as a result, instructed the Commission of the African Union to carry out a study and make recommendations to be considered during the next session.
"In view of the increasing nature of indictments issued in non-African countries against African personalities, requests the Commission of the African Union to carry out a comprehensive legal study and make appropriate recommendations to the Assembly," reads the statement.
Karugarama had told delegates that it is always African countries that are subjected to such affronts saying that apart from Rwanda, such attempts have been made on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, and Djibouti.
This insult to our sovereignty and arrogance by these foreign Judges and their backers should be resisted,
"I propose to you distinguished delegates, to take the lead in speaking out loudly and resisting foreign domination through neo-colonial judicial coup d’Etat,’’ said Karugarama.
The indictments by the Spanish judge which are based on the "universal jurisdiction" that is enjoyed by some judges in the west, were issued following similar ones by another French judge Jean Louis Bruguiere.
Bruguiere’s indictments resulted into Rwanda severing diplomatic ties with France in late 2006. Several Rwandan leaders and the general public alike have reacted angrily to both indictments.