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 was a landmark treaty that was promoted by African states. It aimed at preventing and prosecuting the most heinous crimes known to mankind including genocide, war and crimes against humanity.
President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama signed the instrument in Gaborone on Monday at the official opening of a two-day workshop on the ratification of the 2009 Kampala amendments with respect to the crime of aggression.
In his keynote address before signing the instrument, 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.
The President 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.
He said 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.
President Khama said the ICC, as the permanent court of last resort, had so far set itself apart in dispensing international criminal justice adding that 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.
He stated that the emergence of the ICC was therefore a welcome development that served as a true embodiment of the aspirations of the international community. The President further explained 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.
He said state parties needed to do more in order to close the existing impunity gap by, amongst others actions, upholding provisions of the statute that they signed for.
“As state parties, we are bound by the statute to cooperate with the court by, for example, effecting arrests warrants and bringing perpetrators of violence to answer for the atrocities they commit against defenseless and innocent victims, mostly women and children,” he added.
The 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.
On the contrary, the President said state parties should respond to a higher calling and assist the court to build a protective shield around victims, who in most cases were visited with brute force, lost dignity and shattered livelihoods.
He said Botswana believed that the adoption of the Kampala amendments on crime against aggression had brought the international community a step closer to expanding criminal liability from individuals to aggressor states.
For his part, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Mr 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.
He said Botswana was greatly honoured to be host and being amongst countries that were leading the campaign on the ratification and implementation of the Kampala amendments. This was the first meeting of African state parties to the Rome statute on the Kampala amendments to be held on the African continent.
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. ENDS