Friday, March 19, 2010

" Cooperation, Most Challenging For ICC"

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)_The Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has said that the mot challenging area for the ICC and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is cooperation. She was speaking to delegates at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, on the occasion of the Gambia Bar Week.
The Bar Week whose closing ceremony was held on Friday 29 January 2010, was organised by the Gambia Nar Association and funded by the Legal Capacity Building Programme. The theme of the Bar Week was:“Legal Practice In The 21st Century”.
Mrs. Bensouda told delegates that the Rome Statute establishes a comprehensive regime for the repression of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“While the court has the necessary judicial powers it does not have an independent mechanism to enforce its decisions”.
According to her, the “successful implementation of its work depends on cooperation with the international community”, in particular state parties.
She said cooperation is necessary, for instance, “in assisting the court with the protection of victims and witnesses, the execution of warrants of arrest, the transfer of suspects to the court, as well as logistical and administrative matters”. She indicated that while cooperation in these fields is requested primarily from the territorial states, the ICC has seen how the support of other states and organisations, particularly the United Nation in the context of the DRC, would often be essential to achieving arrests.
On how the ICC and the Gambian Bar Association could work together, Mrs. Bensouda said, in the long term, the success of the Rome Statue would be the effective prosecution of these crimes through ending impunity around the world.
This is one area in which, she believes, they could work together since their separate mandates could complement each other.
“One of the tasks of the prosecutor is to make it clear to states that he would do his part”, but that a positive understanding of the idea of complementarity is essential”, she pointed out, adding, “it is key to the success of the system”.
On what this means in practice, she said they firmly believe that a positive understanding of complementing means making sure that first the court is taken seriously as an enforcer of the statute.
“We believe that we have after five years now crossed a critical threshold where the public and, in particular, governments realise that the rules had changed and they have to act,” she stressed.
She said this means, for instance, implementing the provisions of the Rome Statute into national legislation.
This was an area in which the Gambia Bar Association could contribute in a crucial manner, she noted.
“I would like to point out that 30 African states are state parties to the Rome Statute”, which clearly demonstrates the high level of responsibility expressed by the African states including The Gambia.
“ICC core values are consistent with African norms. It was clear that even those African countries that are not yet state parties to the Statute share our objective of working for greater accountability”, she stated.
Another challenge faced by the OTP specifically relates to how to initiate its investigations. “For the prosecutors and myself our mandate is clear. We have to apply the law, as an independent prosecutor”. She explained that with propio motu powers the prosecutors have the responsibility to select the cases to bring to the court. This, she further explained, was seen in Rome as the most sensitive of issues. “But selection of cases is, at the end of the day, straight forward. The prosecutors, she told delegates, investigate those most responsible for the most serious crimes of the gravest situations under their jurisdiction.
“Nothing more, nothing less; that is what we did and what we would continue to do”.
She made it clear that, as a result of the application of the law, they are prosecuting Thomas Lubanga for recruiting child soldiers, Joseph Kony and other leaders of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) for abducting children and transforming them into sexual slaves and killers.
They are also prosecuting Germain Katanga and Mathew Ngudjao for killing and raping civilians, Jean-Pierre Bemba, for a campaign of rape and pillage, and Harun and Kushayb for attacking civilians in villages.
Finally, she said, “we had requested an arrest warrant against Al Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”, she declared.
They are also prosecuting Abu Garba for attacking AU peacekeepers in Haskanita on 29 September 2007.
“As announced in late November, we are seeking authorization from the court’s judges to open an investigation proprio motu regarding the situation in Kenya and the crimes committed during the post-election violence

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