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.
This week’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting held at State House chaired by Party President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, turned into a ‘boardroom brawl’ with Masisi expressing concerns and accusing central committee members of not adequately shielding him from opposition missiles.
The meeting which was held on Monday this week was to deliberate on a number of agenda items but the President took the moment to tongue lash his inner circle to stop silly PR blunders that are causing more harm than good. The reprimand was mostly directed to party Secretary General Mpho Balopi as well as Chairman of Communications and International Relations sub-committee, Kagelelo Banks Kentse.
It took the intervention of the Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Magosi to arrest a dispute between the warring Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), by instructing the former to hand over the unfinished P100 billion docket to the latter.
But the PSP’s efforts are not enough, the two institutions are back in the boxing ring again following a letter from the DPP inviting the DCEC back into a case they long declared as “hogwash”. A savingram dated 18th January 2021 from the DPP to the DCEC is calling on the DCEC to assist with further evidence in the P100 billion case, but the DCEC which has never hidden its indifference posits that the move by the DPP can be summed up by the expressions: ‘opening healing wounds’.
A fed-up Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Director General, Tymon Katlholo has come out guns blazing over an order from the Director of the Directorate of Public
Prosecutions (DPP), Stephen Tiroyakgosi instructing the DCEC, to solicit a statement from the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, and ruling party Member of Parliament for Mochudi East, Mabuse Pule, regarding the role he played in the issuance of Whelheminah Maswabi’s intelligence operations passport.