On the power of the federal government to develop and enforce criminal laws: Part 2

In the previous post, I argued that legal form cannot and should not be used to allocate governmental powers and responsibilities between the federal government on the one hand and constituent units of the federation, i.e., regional states, on the other. On such basis I argued that criminal law as a form of law cannot be said to belong to the federal or regional level of government. Hence, I have cautioned against the literal and independent reading of article 55(5) of the constitution which says that the House of Peoples’ Representatives shall enact a criminal code and regional states shall enact criminal law on matters not covered by the federal criminal legislation.

I submitted that this constitutional provision should be read in light of Article 51 which deals with the powers and responsibilities of the federal government. Accordingly the federal government can pass any kind of law, including criminal law, on matters which fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Such matters are provided in Article 51. It is, therefore, the duty of the federal government to demonstrate that the criminal laws it has passed or plans to pass are relating to matters falling under one or more of the twenty-one items in Article 51 and other parts of the constitution. Regional states, on the other hand, can pass criminal legislation on matters which are outside the federal jurisdiction.

I finished the last post by posing a question. Regarding forestry offences, for example, can regional states provide for a higher penalty than what is provided in the federal law for the same offence? I will add another question here and address the two together: can regional states expand or contract the scope of federal offences relating to forestry?

As I have said, if we read Article 55 of the constitution literally and independent of Article 51, we ask a simple question: is the offence provided in the federal criminal legislation? If the answer is yes, then it follows that a given regional state can neither provide for a higher penalty nor expand and contract the definition of the relevant forestry offence. But I have suggested against this rather simplistic reading of the relevant constitutional provisions.

In my view, in order to answer the above question, we must first determine the respective roles of the federal government regarding management of forest resources? Does the federal government have exclusive power over the management of our forest resources? If the answer to this question were yes, then it follows that the federal government would have the exclusive power to develop and enforce forest laws, including criminal laws relating to forestry. But the constitutional reality is different.

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ሕገ መንግሥታዊ የዋስትና መብትን በመተርጎም በኩል ስለታየው ችግር



ዓለም አቀፍ የሲቪልና የፖለቲካ መብቶች ቃል ኪዳን ስምምነት& ዓለም አቀፍ የሰብዓዊ መብት ሕግጋት እና በኢፌዲሪ ሕገ መንግሥት የተካተቱት ሥነ ሥርዓታዊ መብቶች መሠረታዊ ዓላማ መርማሪ አካላት ያለበቂ ምክንያትና ሕጋዊ ሥርዓት የአንድን ሰው የነጻነት መብት እንዳይጥሱ ዋስትና እና ጥበቃ መስጠት ነው፡፡ የብዙ አገሮች ሕገ መንግሥት የአንድ ሰው በሕይወት የመኖር& የአካል ደህንነትና የነፃነት መብት ከሰው ልጅ ተፈጥሯዊ ክቡርነት የመነጩ ሊደፈሩና ሊገሰሱ የማይችሉ መብቶች መሆናቸውን ያረጋገጣሉ@ መሠረታዊ መብቶቹ ተግባር ላይ እንዲውሉ ጥረት የሚደረግ መሆኑ የሚታወቅ ነው፡፡ በሌላ በኩል የእነዚህን መብቶች አፈፃፀም የሚሸረሽሩ ወይም ዋጋ የሚያሳጡ የተለያዩ የወንጀል ድርጌቶች በዓለም ውስጥ በየደረጃው በስፋት ሲፈፀም ማየትና መስማት የተለመደ ሆኗል፡፡ ይህ የማይጣጣም ሁኔታ ከልዩ ልዩ የጥቅም ግጭቶች& ከአመለካከት ልዩነት& ካለመቻቻልና ከመሣሰሉት መንስዔዎች የሚመነጭ ሊሆን ይችላል፡፡

በዓለም አቀፍ ሆነ በብሔራዊ ሕግጋት ዕውቅና ከተሰጣቸው መሠረታዊ መብቶች አንዱ በወንጀል የተከሰሰ ሰው ጉዳዩ ሥልጣን ባለው ፍርድ ቤት ታይቶ ጥፋተኛ መሆኑ እስካልተረጋገጠ ድረስ ከወንጀል ነፃ እንደሆነ የመቆጠር መብት ያለው መሆኑ ነው፡፡ ይህ መሠረታዊ መብት ዕውቅና ሊያገኝ የቻለው ንፁሀን ግለሰቦች በወንጀል በመጠርጠራቸው ወይም በመከሰሳቸው ብቻ ሊደርስባቸው የሚችለውን የተለያየ የመብት ጥሰት ለመግታት ነው፡፡

ወንጀል ፈጽሟል ተብሎ የተያዘ ሰው በመሠረቱ የተጠረጠረበት ወንጀል በማስረጃ ከተረጋገጠበት ሊፈረድበት@ ማስረጃ ከሌለ ግን ሊፈታ ይገባል፡፡ ሆኖም መረማሪ ፖሊስ ወይም ዐቃቤ ሕግ ጉዳዩን እስኪያጣሩና ለፍርድ እስኪቀርብ ድረስ ታሣሪው በጥፋተኝነት የማይቀጣበት ወይም በፍጹም ነፃነት የማይለቀቅበት ሁኔታ አለ፡፡ ይህም በዋስ የመለቀቅ መብት ነው፡፡ መንግሥት የሕብረተሰብን ሰላምና ፀጥታ የማስከበር እንዲሁም የግለሰብን መብትና ነፃነት የማክበር ሃላፊነት አለበት፡፡ መንግሥት የወንጀል ተግባር ፈጽመዋል በማለት በሚይዛቸው ሰዎች ላይ ሕግ ለማስከበር የሚፈጽመው ተግባር ሁለት ተፋላሚ የሆኑ ጥቅሞችን የሚያስታርቅና የሚያቻችል መሆን አለበት፡፡ የሕዝብን ሰላምና ፀጥታ ለማስጠበቅ ሲባል በከባድ የወንጀል ተግባር የተጠረጠሩ ሰዎችን በፍርድ አደባባይ ተገቢውን ቅጣት እንዲያገኙ ለማድረግ  ከፍርድ በፊት ማሰሩ ተገቢ ሲሆን በሌላ በኩል ተጠርጠረው የታሰሩ ሰዎች ንፁህ ሰዎች የሚሆኑበት እድል ሰፊ ስለሆነ ከፍርድ በፊት እንዳይታሰሩ ጥንቃቄ ማድረግ ይጠበቅበታል፡፡  

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Regional Systems in Pursuing International Criminal Justice: An Examination of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights


It has been more than thirteen years since the International Criminal Court was established and started its operation on most serious crimes of international concern, namely Genocide, crime against humanity, crimes of war and aggression. The Court was established by virtue of the Rome statute as a permanent international criminal tribunal independent from other United Nations bodies. To date, all cases that have been investigated by ICC are from Africa, specifically on Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan, Libya, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire. African countries generally have cooperated in the early stages of the establishment of ICC.

Nowadays, however, it seems that the relationship between ICC and Africa is turning into a growing trend of contention. It has been a point of discussion in the academia and in the international politics as to whether the court is indeed exclusively targeting Africa regardless of their contribution and cooperation for its creation and advancement. Some commentators also argued that it is “a mechanism of neo- colonialist policy” or “post-colonial court”, especially after the issuance of arrest warrant against the current president of Sudan- Al Bashir. The former chairperson of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, expressed his displeasure on the relationship between the court and some countries in the continent as it is “unfair that all those situations referred to the ICC so far were African”, and “it seems that Africa has become a laboratory to test the new international law.” Similarly, the Benin president in 2009, the Rwandan president and the Ethiopian prime minister in 2013 have portrayed their dissatisfaction on the functioning of the court as a new form of imperialism that seeks to undermine powerless states in terms of politics and economic development. The AU has also expressed its dissatisfaction by rejecting a request to open an ICC liaison office at the head quarter of the AU, Addis Ababa.


As a result, in 2008 the AU in its 11th ordinary summit at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt adopted a protocol on the establishment of African Court of Justice and Human Right (ACJHR). At the time of publication five countries, namely Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Congo and Benin have signed the protocol. After six years, on October 2014 the AU has adopted a draft protocol on the statute of the ACJHR which specifically extends immunity to heads of governments, states and other officials before the court.  While the document is still important particularly in creating regional systems for pursuing international criminal justice, it still poses a great risk on the integrity of the African court and ensuring justice for victims of serious crimes under international law. The immunity exemption clause has been criticized as it contradicts with the AU’s human rights law regime and Article 4(h) of its constitutive act which calls for intervention in case of gross human right violation.

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