Botswana Signs ICC Treaty
Gaborone – Botswana has signed the instrument of the 2010 Kampala Ratification Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The amendments of the Rome Statute of the ICC were a landmark treaty that was promoted by African states.
It aimed at preventing and prosecuting the most heinous crimes known to humankind, including genocide, war and crimes against humanity.
President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama signed the instrument in Gaborone on April 15 at the official opening of a two-day workshop on the ratification of the 2009 Kampala amendments with respect to crimes of aggression.
The purpose of the workshop, attended by close to 100 legal experts, was to recall the historic importance of the amendments of the Rome Statute adopted in Kampala in June 2010 and to assist African states in the process of ratification and those contemplating to join the statute in the near future.
Botswana is one of few countries, especially in Africa, that encourage the work of the ICC and one of the countries that take their responsibility under the ICC Statute very seriously.
This has not changed over the years and it has nearly isolated the Southern African state from the continent.
At one stage, Botswana supported the warrant of arrest issued by the ICC against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
This was despite the position taken by the African Union (AU) not to co-operate in relation to the warrant of arrest issued by the ICC at the Assembly of African Heads of States and Government in Equatorial Guinea, as it was believed that the court is targeting African leaders.
In 2009, President Khama’s remarks that Sudanese President Omar al Bashir be sent to the ICC in The Hague was also in contravention of an AU summit resolution.
The AU had resolved that the warrant of arrest for the Sudanese president should be suspended until next year to give it a chance to deal with the problem in Darfur.
In his keynote address before signing the ICC instrument this past week, President Khama said Botswana supported the amendments adopted in Kampala, adding that the signing of the instrument was a symbol of the country’s commitment to the implementation of the 2000 Rome Statute of the ICC.
He said there was no doubt that the ICC’s mandate to prosecute all crimes under the Rome Statute and the Security Council’s political mandate of maintaining international peace and security, was compatible and mutually reinforced the concept of peace and justice.
President Khama observed that the Rome Statute of the ICC continued to evolve into a body of international law that laid a solid emphasis on promoting accountability, fighting impunity and ensuring protection of victims of grave violations of human rights.
“The ICC, as the permanent court of last resort, had so far set itself apart in dispensing international criminal justice.
“Since the idea of a panel international justice system that was firstly launched at the Nuremberg Trials 67 years ago, the international community had increasingly relied on the limited role of ad-hoc tribunals and special courts to stem the tide of human rights abuses,” said President Khama
Therefore, emergence of the ICC, Khama said, was a welcome development that served as a true embodiment of the aspirations of the international community.
He added that that the ICC had transformed enforcement of the international justice system and successfully brought relief and hope to the countless number of victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“As state parties, we are bound by the statute to co-operate with the court by, for example, effecting arrest warrants and bringing perpetrators of violence to answer for the atrocities they commit against defenceless and innocent victims, mostly women and children,” he said.
The Botswana President said the responsibility of state parties was to ensure that the vision that guided the framers of the treaty establishing the ICC back in 1998 must never be impaired by the circumstances and status of the accused.
The Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse said Botswana had on a number of occasions, demonstrated publicly, its support for the Rome statute and the work of the ICC.
“The country continued to reaffirm its position as a state party to the statute, thus to uphold its principles and abide by the treaty obligations whenever required,” said Minister Seretse.