A former Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Justice Francis Emile Short has called on Parliamentarians to pass the International Criminal Court (ICC) Bill which was drafted in 2016 so as to give effect to Ghana’s obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC.
He said our national criminal justice system can only be prepared to deal with atrocity crimes committed during conflicts arising from, for example, electoral disputes when steps are taken to domesticate the Rome Statute in order to give a legal backing for the prosecution of atrocity crimes against persons who bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes if they occur in Ghana.
“It is important the society puts pressure on government to pass the legislation of the International Criminal Court Bill and to take steps to domesticate the Rome Statute and also develop our national criminal justice system to be prepared to deal with such cases’’, Justice Short noted.
Justice Short made these remarks during a panel discussion commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the International Criminal Court. The discussion was organized by the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability in collaboration with CDD-Ghana. The discussion, which was sponsored by Senegal-based Trust Africa, was on the theme “20 Years of the ICC: The Hits, Misses, and Prospects for Pursuing Justice for Victims of Atrocity Crimes.’’
The discussion was led by experts in international justice such as Justice Emile Francis Short, Former Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Professor Anne Pieter Van Der Mei, Department of Public Law, Maastricht University, H.E Kabral Blay-Amihere, Former Ghanaian Ambassador to Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast and Ms. Evelyn Ankumah, Executive Director, Africa Legal Aid. The Discussion was chaired by H.E Judge Akua Kuenyehia, Former Vice President of the International Criminal Court.
Discussants included international justice experts, Members of Parliament, officials from the Executive branch of government, legal practitioners, academics, Diplomatic corps, civil society, and the media
Both the Executive Director of the ACILA, Mr. William Nyarko and Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director of CDD-Ghana shared similar views in their opening remarks adding that it is regrettable that even though Ghana was one of the first countries to adopt the Rome Statute in 1999, it has not domesticated the Rome Statute to give effect to its obligations under the statute 19 years after ratification.
After a series of high level meetings between States, 120 States Parties adopted the Rome Statute on 17 July, 1998, to establish the ICC in the Hague, Netherlands – a permanent court to prosecute perpetrators of serious international crimes namely, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. A significant fact is that African States, including Ghana, participated in the meetings.
Ghana’s delegation was led by Dr. Obed Yao Asamoa, then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. Ghana signed the statute on 18 July, 1998; ratified it on 20 December, 1999; and the statute came into force on 1 July 2002. To date, Ghana has not domesticated the Rome Statute to give effect to its obligations under the statute.