[JURIST] A UN independent expert on Thursday praised [statement; UN News Centre report] a convention passed by the African Union (AU) [official website, English] to protect internally displaced persons (IDPs). The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention) [text, PDF] was passed in 2009 and came into full enforcement on Thursday. It is the world’s first set of guidelines for the protection of individuals who are displaced within their own country. Other conventions have been passed throughout the world protecting refugees who have been forced out of their home countries due to violent conflict or natural disasters, but they did not deal with IDPs. In his statement, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs Chaloka Beyani outlined the importance of the Kampala Convention:
Out of the 26 million persons internally displaced due to conflict or human rights violence in 2011, an estimated 10 million were in Africa, with at least a further half million internally displaced due to sudden onset natural disasters, such as floods. … However, I believe that the significance of the Kampala Convention goes beyond Africa—as an international model this comprehensive Convention represents the culmination of over two decades of work during which Governments, civil society and the international community have sought to improve the way we address the plight of millions of internally displaced persons across the globe.
The Kampala convention has been signed by 37 member states of the AU. Beyani urged the remaining members of the AU to consider signing the historic convention to ensure the protection of IDPs throughout Africa.
In July the AU announced [JURIST report] that it will vote on whether to establish a continental criminal court to try human rights crimes. The African Court on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) currently does not have jurisdiction to try criminals and asked the AU to pass a resolution granting it the authority to sentence human rights criminals. Last year, African Union Commission (AUC) [official website] Chairperson Jean Ping had accused [JURIST report] former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [official website], Luis Moreno-Ocampo, of targeting African citizens for prosecution. The accusation came amid a vote by Africa’s foreign ministers, who supported Kenya’s bid to defer the trials of numerous suspects who allegedly planned the 2007 post-election violence [Reuters backgrounder]. In 2010 the Kenyan Parliament approved a motion to withdraw the country from the ICC [JURIST report]. The vote came a week after Ocampo presented [JURIST report] cases against six individuals believed to be responsible for the 2007 post-election violence that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths in the country.