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Africa Asks UN for Court Opinion on Immunity for Leaders

FILE - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir smiles during a visit to Johannesburg, South Africa, June 14, 2015. South Africa said it would withdraw from the International Criminal Court following a 2015 dispute over a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

Kenya is asking the United Nations on behalf of African states to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on immunity for heads of state and government and other senior officials.

The request by Kenyan Ambassador Lazarus Ombai Amayo follows a decision by the African Union in January to seek an opinion from the court, the U.N.’s highest judicial body.

Some African countries have been highly critical of the International Criminal Court for pursuing the continent’s leaders, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.

In a letter circulated Wednesday, Amayo asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to request the General Assembly to put the African request for an advisory opinion on immunity on the agenda of its upcoming session starting in September.