NEW YORK – The Vice President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi has in what was interpreted by political experts as a defiant statement against the 2014 position of the African Union (AU) on the International Criminal Court (ICC), reaffirmed Botswana’s unwavering support and commitment to the ICC and what it stands for.
The 54 nation AU has urged its members to "speak with one voice" against criminal proceedings at the ICC instituted on sitting presidents. The organization expressed disappointed that a request to the United Nations Security Council to defer the trials of Kenya's leaders had not yielded the "positive result expected".
In the SADC region, only Botswana is opposed to the AU position, which was made in a statement last year February following an Ethiopian summit attended by 34 leaders. Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his deputy, William Ruto, who both deny the charges, face charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC in the Hague for allegedly orchestrating post-election violence in which more than 1,000 people died.
Sometimes back in November, the Security Council rejected an AU demand to suspend the ICC trial of the two leaders. Guatemala's UN ambassador, Gert Rosenthal said the attempt to suspend the trial was an act of "contempt" against countries that had sought to help Africa with peacekeeping troops and efforts to boost justice in the continent.
Eight Security Council nations, all ICC members or supporters, including Britain, France and the United States, abstained to ensure the failure of the resolution. The resolution got seven votes, two below the number needed to pass in the 15-member body. It was the first time in decades that a Security Council resolution failed in such a way without a veto by one of the permanent members.
However, this week at the United Nations assembly debate Botswana spoke hard against the controversial Security Council’s permanent seats and the veto.
“Botswana continues to firmly support the initiative by France calling for the permanent members of the Security Council to refrain from using their veto powers in situations involving mass atrocities,” said Masisi.
Masisi said the UN, which promotes democracy around the globe, should itself lead by example. “The UN Security Council is not an example of a democracy where permanent membership is limited to five countries which further have a veto.
There should be no permanent members and no veto at all. The practice of might is right, is actually wrong. Whilst in the main, it is indeed the primary responsibility of states to ensure the protection of their people, the reality is that some, like Syria, are manifestly failing to do so,” he said.
Masisi further observed that Vetoes violate international humanitarian law with shameful impunity. He added that this should clearly necessitate the application of Pillars II and III of the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P): yet, nothing is happening.
“Is it perhaps time that R2P is made a formal agenda item for debate by the General Assembly? Perhaps such a debate could provide sufficient impetus for the Security Council to carry the full mantle of its mandate, including improving its relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to facilitate investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against humanity,” he said in his debate which was read to an almost half-empty GA hall.
International Criminal Court
Defying the AU, Masisi said Botswana's commitment to a strong and effective international justice system remains resolute. “Our belief in the ICC, as the only standing international criminal tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity, is unwavering,” he told member states.
The Botswana Government, Masisi, in what many suspected was referring to South African president, Jacob Zuma said regrets that non-cooperation by some State Parties still plagues the Court, making allowance for continued impunity and escape from accountability for crimes committed against humanity.
The South African government recently made news world headlines when they helped the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to escape from arrest during a visit. The court ruled that SA government had a legal duty to arrest Bashir.
Zuma’s government allowed Bashir to leave the country on June 15 despite a court order blocking his departure, arguing that he had immunity from arrest during his visit to the country for an African Union summit.
Masisi said his government urges all Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to stand fully behind the Court. Cooperation is vital for the assurance of the Court's integrity and effective functioning.
“My delegation and I are hopeful that as we commemorate 70 years of the United Nations, we can have unanimous agreement that judicial accountability, inclusive governance and the protection and promotion of human rights are essential elements for peaceful societies.
This, he said, should not be seen as the preserve of the ICC or Security Council alone, but rather as a shared responsibility of the member states.
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.