Leaders get immunity at new African court against major crimes of war, humanity, genocide

Leaders at an African summit have voted to give themselves immunity from prosecution for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide at a new African Court of Justice and Human Rights.

The decision comes as the continent confronts heinous human rights violations and has two sitting leaders and one ousted president facing charges at the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International called it "a backward step in the fight against impunity and a betrayal of victims of serious violations of human rights."

The vote came Friday at an African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea but was only published in a statement Monday night.

Forty-two rights groups had objected, noting in an open letter that the impunity violates international and domestic laws as well as the constitution of the African Union.