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Botswana’s commitment to the Rome Statute is commendable!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima


During his presentation of this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama reaffirmed Botswana’s commitment to the Rome Statute that established the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).


This is no doubt commendable considering the fact that many African countries have expressed dislike for the ICC, stating that only African Presidents and/or Heads of State are arraigned before the court for prosecution while those from western states are never brought before the court.


The other ground of opposition against the ICC is that some of these western countries, e.g. the United States of America, which celebrate the fact that African leaders are arraigned before the ICC, are not even signatories to the Rome Statute.


As stated earlier, Botswana deserves to be commended because its resolve is not shaken by the fact that, to date, four African countries namely Kenya, Gambia, Burundi and South Africa have noticed their intentions to cease their membership of the ICC, the twelve member court established in 2002 to fight human rights violations in the world.


Before we discuss the importance of the Rome Statute and demonstrate why Botswana’s commitment to it is commendable it is apposite that we give a brief account of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute of the ICC, commonly referred to as the ICC Statute or the Rome Statute, is the treaty that established the ICC.


It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17th July 1998 and it entered into force on 1st July 2002. To date, about 124 states are party to the Statute. Inter alia, the Statute establishes the ICC's functions, jurisdiction and structure.


The Rome Statute, which is essentially an instrument of international law, established four main international crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.


In terms of the Statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute the four core international crimes in situations where states are "unable" or "unwilling" to do so themselves. The Statute explicitly provides that the said crimes "shall not be subject to any statute of limitations. This means that a crime committed in terms of the Statute does not prescribe due to the passage of time.


The ICC has jurisdiction over crimes only if they are committed in the territory of a state party or if they are committed by a national of a state party. An exception to this rule is that the ICC may also have jurisdiction over crimes if its jurisdiction is authorized by the United Nations Security Council.


The aforegoing account of the ICC shows how invaluable it is to all countries, including those in the African continent. Proponents of withdrawal from the Statute give, among the reasons, the fact that the countries should prosecute the accused themselves.


The fact of the matter is that were it not for the ICC many leaders who are guilty of human right violations would go without prosecution and unpunished because they wield such power and rule by such tyranny that nobody would dare prosecute them, especially when still in office.


Also, in many countries, many Presidents and/or Heads of State are immune from prosecution for any crime they commit while still in office. This immunity continues to protect them after leaving office. Even where the constitution does not provide for such immunity from prosecution, it is unlikely that former leaders can be prosecuted locally because they are often protected by their successors whom they often hand pick.


African leaders also protect each other. Of note is the case of the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, whom South Africa declined to arrest when he attended an African Union meeting in South Africa despite there being an ICC warrant of arrest against him. It is for this reason that South Africa has decided to leave the ICC.


There have been so many tyrannical African Presidents and Heads of State, yet there is almost none that was prosecuted by the country itself. Our fellow African brothers and sisters have suffered under the tyranny of such autocrats as Mabutho Seseko of Zaire and Charles Taylor of Liberia with no action by the states themselves.


With respect to Charles Taylor it is the ICC which came to the Liberians’ rescue. The ICC also came to Ivory Coast’s rescue by prosecuting former President Laurent Gbagbo who orchestrated unspeakable violence in an attempt to hold on to power after losing the election to Alassane Quattara in 2010.  


Invariably, therefore, African states have been "unable" or "unwilling" to conduct prosecutions, thereby vesting the ICC with jurisdiction in terms of the Statute. It is not as if the ICC just imposed itself to prosecute when the African countries were actually willing to prosecute.


Examples are the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Sudan, Uganda and Georgia where neither the countries themselves nor such regional bodies as the African Union (AU) have done anything to prosecute the leaders who have brought untold suffering to the people.


Should the ICC also not act for fear of being accused of targeting African leaders? Is the ICC really targeting African leaders or it is African leaders who are mostly guilty of human right violations? Just consider the case of the Gambia where President Yahya Jammeh lost elections and conceded defeat, but later rejected the results.


In how many western countries have leaders rejected electoral results? In how many western countries have leaders remained in office when they have lost legitimacy? Have we not seen many western leaders voluntarily resigning just for losing an ordinary motion in Parliament?


David Cameron of Great Britain resigned after he lost the Brexit vote. Recently, the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, resigned after losing a referendum vote. In Africa, even when a leader has lost all legitimacy or has lost a vote of confidence in Parliament he or she clings to power. Presidents Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma of Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively are cases in point.   


It is curious that Jammeh rejected the electoral results days after the President elect, Adama Barrow, indicated that he will reverse Gambia’s decision to leave the ICC. Certainly, Jammeh wants to remain in power until death so that he avoids prosecution by the ICC. 


Jammeh’s decision may result in blood shed in Gambia. Sadly, more than a week after he has made such an inflammatory declaration the AU has not acted decisively to avert such eventuality. As a result of Jammeh’s action civil war may arise resulting in genocide and nothing will be done to him as was the case with the Burundian dictator, Pierre Nkurunziza.     


While it is true that many western countries are not members of the ICC, this does not mean that African countries should resign from the ICC. They should remain as members so that the ICC accords protection to their citizens. Why would a country resign from a noble institution on the basis that other countries are not members?


It is true that the ICC, just like many institutions, has its flaws, but those, in my view, do not warrant such a mass resignation by African countries. The United Nations, for example, is flawed to the extent Africa has no seat in the Security Council, yet African countries have not resigned from the UN.


Is it a coincidence that the African leaders who are leading the resignation from the ICC are tainted with bad governance? Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta, Jammeh, Nkurunziza and Zuma of Kenya, Gambia, Burundi and South Africa respectively do not have an admirable democratic record, do they?

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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