Danso/Grace Princess Tarwo, GNA
Accra, Aug 07, GNA - Professor Akua Kuenyehia, a former First Vice President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has called for increased support for the global court to end impunity.
The extent to which the court succeeded in bringing down impunity would depend on the political will of nations in terms of gathering evidence and witnesses among other things.
She was contributing to discussions at a forum held in Accra to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the ICC.
The programme was jointly organized by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Trust Africa and Africa for International Law and Accountability (ACILA).
“20 years of the ICC, the hits, misses and prospects for pursuing justice for victims of atrocity” was the theme chosen for the event.
Prof Kuenyehia said although the ICC applied the law in its operations, some of its activities had snippets of politics and therefore labelled the court as “work in progress”.
“The ICC does not have a police force and a prison of its own. We only have 12 cells to keep suspects. The ICC spends over €150 million annually, for its operations.”
She reminded nations to ensure transparent and efficient management of elections and to stop being complacent.
Justice Emile Francis Short, former Judge, International Criminal Tribunal, Rwanda, said the ICC was a permanent international independent tribunal established to end impunity - to hold accountable persons caught committing atrocious crimes - genocide, crimes against humanity and aggression.
He pointed out that the court could only step in where national jurisdictions were unwilling or unable to take up cases.
In countries where national judicial systems were fully functional, the ICC could also provide some assistance in the form of training of judges to handle crimes and atrocities.
He noted that cases handled by the ICC bordered on conflicts and Africa seemed to be bedevilled with many of such cases.
Mr. Short urged everybody to disabuse their minds that African leaders had always been the target of the ICC.
He encouraged African leaders to do due diligence in the signing of agreements by ascertaining the contents of such agreements.
Ms Evelyn Ankumah, Executive Director of African Legal Aid, The Hague, said countries needed a strong ICC to fill the gabs in national law reforms, adding that, “he ICC is a default court and its task is to serve as a safety net.
“In an ideal world we would not need the ICC but in today’s world we need the ICC”.