Amid strong winds of discontent and discomfort especially from fellow African countries about the International Criminal Court, Botswana has reaffirmed her support for the court and declared her readiness to engage and reach out to member countries to find lasting solutions to challenges faced by the body.
Speaking at the 15th session of the assembly of state parties to the Rome statute of the ICC in Netherlands, midweek, the country’s Attorney General, Athaliah Molokomme, said Botswana’s determination to honour the court is strong. “Botswana once again reaffirms her commitment to contributing to one of the most indispensable causes of human life – the attainment of justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Molokomme noted before adding that, “Our determination to honour our obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is strong. In this regard a bill domesticating the Rome Statute of the ICC has been tabled before Parliament.
It has gone through the First Reading and is now on the agenda for the November 2016 session,” she explained. However, while Botswana domesticates the statute and sings praise to the latest ICC preliminary report, support for the court continues to crumble as other countries are thinking of pulling out their signatures. Already four countries, latest, Russia, have pulled out.
This week Russia withdrew its support for the treaty in protest against an investigation into alleged atrocities it committed in Georgia. The details of the alleged atrocities are contained in the ICC report which was released this week. Not long after Russia’s move, Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte was also quoted in the media as having suggested that he is thinking of withdrawing his signature from the ICC as well. This follows earlier withdrawals from the ICC by three African countries, South Africa, Gambia and Burundi who strongly believe that ICC is biased against Africa.
Meanwhile, the United States of America had also dismissed the ICC’s investigation of potential war crimes that its soldiers could have committed in Afghanistan as unwarranted. The US state Department spokesperson, Elizabeth Tudeau was quoted as having stated that, “We do not believe that an ICC examination or investigation with respect to the actions of US personnel in relation to the situation in Afghanistan is warranted or appropriate.”
The US is said to have praised its own system of “accountability” and contended that it does not even fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC. But the ICC suggests otherwise: “The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that, in the course of interrogating these detainees, and in conduct supporting those interrogations, members of the US armed forces and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape.
These acts are punishable under articles 8(2)(c)(i) and (ii) and 8(2)(e)(vi) of the Statute.” The US and China are not signatories to the statute that forms the ICC. Meanwhile Botswana has applauded the continued good work of the court and has welcomed the report tabled by the court President, Silvia Fernandez this week.
“With the continuing mass atrocities taking place across the world, we are deeply concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian and political situations in Yemen, Syria, The West Bank and in some parts of Africa,” Molokomme stated and added that, “And while the world is still replete with mass atrocities and grave crimes that continue to shake the conscience of humanity, nations, big and small, can still draw inspiration and solace from knowing that never, never and never again shall the world be ruled by tyrants, dictators and criminals alike.”
Eighteen years ago, according to Molokomme, nations of the world, reeling from the wounds of the bitter and brutal past, tired of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity decided to come together and establish the ICC. She said, with complementarity to national jurisdictions as its hallmark, the ICC resolved to put an end to impunity for all perpetrators of such crimes irrespective of status, power, influence or rank in society.
“The creation of the ICC marked a milestone in the enhancement of International Criminal Jurisprudence and strengthening of the international rule of law. We want it to work effectively. The domestication of the Rome Statue of the ICC will contribute in no small measure to the realization of this shared objective,” she further pointed out.
Molokomme’s contention is that, Botswana's commitment to the core principles of the ICC is to cooperate with the international community, to enable the Court to function effectively and sustainably, as it seeks to bring lasting peace to the world. She says, in fact “the President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Lt. General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama underscored this conviction at the opening of the Plenary of the 10th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
Molokomme further stated that President Khama is of the view that progress should be made regarding the Crime of Aggression and that the struggle against impunity in all its forms and manifestations must continue. “Having the requisite threshold of more than 30 ratifications, we look forward to seeing the activation of the ICC's jurisdiction over the Crime of Aggression next year,” she added.
Currently the ICC is investigating 10 situations and 10 preliminary investigations, a situation which Botswana feels needs the support of the international community if it is to build on the new development agenda. “We therefore welcome and support efforts by the President of the Court to carry out reforms within the institution in order to enhance its efficient financial operations,” Molokomme suggested.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.