Botswana once again breaks ranks with Africa on ICC

By Mpho Tebele

Gaborone – Botswana has maintained that it is still a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court although some member states are still considering severing ties.

Acommuniqué from the Botswana Government presented at the 71st Session of the United Nations recently reportedly said that Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi maintained the country’s stance on the ICC.

“As a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC), we support all efforts to fight impunity and strengthen the international criminal justice system in order to bring justice to the victims of such crimes,” the communiqué quoted Masisi saying.

Masisi also urged all states that are signatories to the Rome Statute to uphold their commitments.

As a member of the community of nations, Masisi is quoted saying since Botswana cherishes freedom, peace and the full enjoyment of life, it remains deeply concerned about the many acts of terror, conflict and human suffering that have precipitated the vast and large displacement of people across the globe.

“To this end, we are concerned about the protracted Syrian crisis, which could have been long contained had the United Nations Security Council and the international community intervened promptly in this man-made catastrophe,” he reportedly added.

Masisi also said Botswana strongly condemn the continued blatant contravention of international law and UN resolutions by North Korea through its continuous testing of ballistic missiles.

“To demonstrate our abhorrence, Botswana terminated her diplomatic relations with the rogue state because of its poor human rights record. In fact ,in our opinion, North Korea and Syria do not deserve the membership of this world body due to their lack of respect and adherence to the values and principles which they have committed to uphold.

“As a community of nations bound by universal ideals and moral ethos, it would be a dereliction of our responsibilities if we do not hold each other accountable for breaching the very fundamental values of human rights this organization is committed to uphold.

“In the light of the increasing security threats, we call upon the United Nations Security Council, as an organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security to demonstrate seriousness and alacrity in executing this important mandate. It can no longer be acceptable to hide behind the veto while millions of innocent lives are lost,” he said.

His comments came when the African Union has mandated its Open-Ended Committee on the ICC to develop a “comprehensive strategy” that includes withdrawal.

The committee that formed in January this year and met on April 11  identified three conditions it said the AU should meet to avoid withdrawal.

These included a demand for immunity for sitting heads of state and other senior officials from prosecution.

Reports also indicate that Kenya has played a leading role in mobilising AU attacks on the ICC since 2013.

On September 19, the ICC issued a finding of non-cooperation by Kenya in the now withdrawn case against President Uhuru Kenyatta to the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties.

The charges in the case against William Ruto, Kenya’s deputy president, were dropped for lack of evidence in April.

Some analysts said Botswana’s stance as the lonely voice on the continent that supports the ICC could lead to its isolation.

Although no African country has pulled out of the international court, Namibia’s ruling party, Swapo, has recommended that the country should pull out although Cabinet has not pronounced itself.

In South Africa, the ruling ANC said if Africa wants to pull out, then AU should do so as a bloc.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he would lead African leaders in a mass pull-out from the ICC.

African countries have accused the court of targeting only former African heads of states adding that it does not serve its intended purpose.