The International Criminal Court (ICC) is at the centre of an evolving global paradigm of justice that states have created to secure a safe and more just world for future generations.
The former vice president of the ICC, Justice Sanji Monageng said this at a two-day high level regional seminar for fostering cooperation with the ICC held in Gaborone last week.
Justice Monageng said at the heart of the Rome Statute was the collective desire of nations to put an end to crimes that have plagued the world for too long.
The only Motswana judge at the ICC said mass murder, torture, systematic rape, deportation and apartheid would never stop without action taken.
She called upon state parties to condemn such acts as they defy international laws. States must seek justice for victims and put an end to impunity, she added.
However, she said at the ICC, they were humbled by the historic mandate that the states parties to the Rome Statute have entrusted them with. She added that they need their help to fulfill the task because justice under the Rome Statute system could only thrive with the support of states.
She said cooperation was the central pillar of the system as the ICC does not have enforcement powers. She added that from investigations to enforcement, arrest and transfer of suspects to the witness protection programme, the ICC needs the cooperation and commitment of state parties to do the job it has been assigned.
The Rome Statute is based on the concept of complementary under which national jurisdictions and the ICC are both working towards the same goal of ending impunity for the gravest crimes of concern to humanity.
Meanwhile in her inaugural speech, ICC prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensoula saluted Botswana’s leading role in the promotion of the international rule of law. She pointed out Botswana’s support for the ICC from its inception to the present in various forums such as the Assembly of States Parties and the African Union and the United Nations.
“Most recently at the UN general assembly’s open debate, Vice President Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi called upon all state parties to stand fully behind the court, which I sincerely thank Botswana,” said Ms Bensoula.
She further said with the creation of the ICC in 1998, the international community, including many African states have affirmed that the age of accountability has arrived and was here to stay.
African states constitute key stakeholders of the court, with the largest regional block of the court’s states parties, currently at 34 states.
The ICC prosecutor further said at first African states were supportive and active when the Rome Statute was negotiated.
She noted that this was driven by the recognition by African heads of state, civil society, and others that the ICC was an important judicial mechanism that could curb mass atrocities, bring justice to victims and promote stability, peace and development.
She said Africa led the world of international criminal justice by referring cases of mass atrocities to the ICC for investigation and by cooperating with the office and facilitating ICC’s investigations by arresting and surrendering individuals sought by the court, and protecting victims and witnesses.
“A recent example illustrative of excellent cooperation the ICC received from Africa states is the Mali situation, exemplified by the recent surrender of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi to the custody of the court by the authorities of Niger, with the full cooperation of the Malian authorities.
This is the first case of the Mali investigation and it focuses on the destruction of religious and historic monuments,” she said.
“But this is not the full picture as we all know. For instance, it is no longer secret that the relationship between the African Union and the ICC has been strained for the past few years.
We believe that any type of problem or misunderstanding can be solved through dialogue and we avail ourselves to engage in such dialogue,” she said.