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African Union called on to back ICC

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court needs more support from governments in Africa and leaders in the African Union, human rights groups said.

More than 30 human rights organizations and close to two dozen African governments said in a letter sent to the African Union ahead of a meeting next week in Ethiopia that AU leaders needed to express "concrete support for the ICC."

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Kenyan leaders and the former Ivorian president are among those appearing recently before the ICC on charges of committing crimes against humanity. Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is wanted on war crimes and genocide charges and former Liberia President Charles Taylor is facing war crimes charges for allegedly funding conflict in Sierra Leone with so-called blood diamonds.

The organizations in their letter to the AU called for improved relations with the court and respect for their obligations under the international statute that created the ICC.

Oby Nwankwo, executive director of the Civil Resource Development and Document Center in Nigeria, one of the letter's signatories, said the ICC needs comprehensive support in order to effectively counter some of the worst international crimes.

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"It is high time African governments and the AU put themselves on the right side of history and support justice for victims, not abusive leaders," Nwankwo said.

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