Since 2009, several African countries have been threatening to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) en-masse, but to date not a single one of them has filed for immediate withdrawal. In fact, at the closure of the 27th African Union summit on Monday this week, in Rwanda, observers say no country had reportedly made a call for such an action.
At the face of a strong campaign of withdrawal from countries such as Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Senegal and others, Botswana’s Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi found himself having to defend Botswana’s position before the press instead.
In an interview with the Mail & Guardian, Masisi defended the much abhorred court among African heads of states as a justified court.
“The best defence is not to abuse but stick to the law,” Masisi was quoted as having stated during the interview at the summit. He is said to have added that, “We would never allow our president to get away with murder. We are not being prescriptive; we are just asking that we up the game.”
Botswana has always maintained her position on ICC even though many other African countries are of the view that the court is biased against Africans. All 23 cases brought before the court have been against Africans, a record that has fuelled their anger to want out of the ICC. But Masisi stuck to the Setswana phrase of ntwakgolo ke ya molomo, “Our entrenched democratic dispensation instructs us that there are limits to power and we respect that. The test to limits to power is through open, free and fair elections. When there is strife or discomfort it affects your neighbours and the region, it affects trade, it affects prosperity and the potential for it.”
Meanwhile, in her speech during the commemoration of day of criminal Justice, ICC President, Judge Silvia Fernandez suggested that in the years since the ICC has grown into a robust judicial institution, convictions have been handed down for the use of child soldiers, murder, and sexual violence. Fernandez further maintains that the ICC has ensured the participation of thirteen thousand victims in its cases and that the Office of the Prosecutor has opened investigations in 10 situations and is analysing many other conflicts on different continents.
“More than one-hundred and eighty thousand victims have benefited from the assistance programmes of the ICC's Trust Fund for Victims. But atrocious crimes still occur. Much more work is needed. Therefore, on 17 July, on the anniversary of the Rome Statute and International Criminal Justice Day, we call again for solidarity in working to make justice effective and ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished,” she explained.
ICC was formed 18 years ago in Rome by world states and it boasts of 60 member states. Its aim is to bring to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
However, not all the member states who have ratified the statute have always honoured its warrants-some African members have declined to arrest visiting Sudanese President, Omar al Bashir who the court has indicted on charges of genocide.
The ICC does not have a police force of its own and since it relies entirely on the cooperation of states and organisations to investigate and prosecute perpetrators and to ensure access of victims to justice, Fernandez has called on members states to cooperate including in arresting suspects, gathering and preservation of evidence, protect witnesses, and enforce ICC sentences. “We need global support from states yet to ratify the Rome Statute, from states that have ratified, as well as from all those who stand against injustice,” Fernandez further said.
The Rome Statute which forms the ICC allows for states to withdraw from the court. Withdrawal takes effect one year after notification of the depositary, and has no effect on prosecution that has already started. Information retrieved from the ICC website suggests that as of now no state had withdrawn from the statute as yet.
The Rome Statute is a treaty that establishes the ICC an international court that has jurisdiction over certain international crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes that are commonly committed by nationals of state members or within the territory of such countries. The country members are legally obligated to co-operate with the court when it requires such as in arresting and transferring indicted persons or providing access to evidence and witnesses.
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.