Professor Nerina Boschiero, Lecturer and Dean of Law at the University of Milan has urged member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC), especially African states to cooperate with the Court to fulfill its functions.
She said the Rome Statute which established the ICC makes it a permanent institution with a jurisdiction over genocide, crime against humanity and war crimes, and supporting it would help provide justice against the vulnerable.
Speaking at a lecture in Accra organized by the Ghana Judicial Service on the theme “Africa and the ICC, a multifaceted relationship”, Prof Boschiero, said part nine of the Rome Statute identified the nature of the obligations upon state parties to the Rome Statute to cooperate with the Court.
“The general statement of the obligation to cooperate can be found in Article 86 of the Rome Statute which states that State Parties shall cooperate fully with the Court in its investigation and prosecution of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court,” she said.
She said states cooperation is important because, without it, the prosecutor would be unable to conduct investigations and collect evidence, or secured the attendance of the accused in order to conduct their trials, especially when the Rome Statute does not permit trials in absentia.
“Cooperation ensures the ability of witness to work with the Court, attend proceedings to provide evidence and to do so in the knowledge that their personal safety and that of their family is ensured against those who may seek recrimination for their cooperation with the Court,” she added.
She said where conviction is found and sentence passed, without the cooperation of member states, the Court would have no facility in which to detain its convicts to serve their sentence.
She disclosed that cooperation by member states with regards to the arrest and surrender of those subject to a warrant, continued to be a missing component for the effective implementation of the Court’s mandate, citing some outstanding arrest warrants to Omar Al Bashir, Abdel Raheem Hussein and Sylvestre Mudacumura, among others.
She said, all the cases that have been dealt with by the ICC till date, involved African states, thereby raising sharp criticism of being neo colonialism and against the prosecutorial policy and discretion.
She said, though justified, it is important that African member states cooperate with the ICC to provide justice and hope to the victims of war crimes and other form of aggression; as such victims generally welcome the work of the ICC.
Prof Boschiero was also unhappy with the composition of the ICC which excludes the most populated countries in the world, especially China, USA, India, and Indonesia among others.
She said, since the ICC was created by a treaty, it does not make it compulsory for countries to be members.
She said the exclusion of such countries from the ICC however means that, 65 per cent of the world’s population do not benefit from its work.
She therefore called for more consultation to ensure the universality of the ICC. GNA