Thursday, July 5, 2012

Amnesty wants world leaders to support ICC

For a decade now, the ICC has been pursuing justice for people who have suffered some of the most serious crimes imaginable.
© Amnesty International

On Sunday, the ICC celebrated a decade of pursuing justice for people who have fallen prey to some of the most serious crimes imaginable.

In a statement, Amnesty’s International Justice Research, Policy and Campaign Manager, Marek Marczyski said: "The very existence of the ICC has given hope for justice to victims of heinous crimes around the world that justice will be done." "Governments should demonstrate their support for the ICC by publicly committing to backing up the court politically and financially."

The ICC, with its seat in The Hague, Netherlands is currently investigating and seeking to prosecute crimes in the Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Libya, Sudan's Darfur region and Uganda.

It is also determining whether to open new investigations into alleged crimes in other places including Afghanistan, Colombia, and Gaza.

The Court’s first judgment was delivered on March 14 this year against Thomas Lubanga who it convicted of recruiting and using child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"People planning to commit these crimes now have to think twice now, because sooner or later they will be held accountable for their actions," Marczyski said.

However, some states especially in Africa that signed up the court's Rome Statute which establishes the ICC have failed to arrest suspects - including Sudan President Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur. Regardless of the indictment and arrest warrant, he frequently undertakes official state travel to friendly states willing to shield him from justice.

And Marczyski said "The failure of governments to back a strong ICC and provide muscular enforcement of its arrest warrants is deeply troubling. Victims deserve better."

Funding needs

Amnesty said many states yet to commit to regular voluntary contributions to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims, which is responsible for assisting victims and delivering court-ordered reparation to victims.

It call on governments to play their part to ensure the ICC has the funds it needs to deliver justice and reparation to victims. It cited a growing concern that states that led the charge to set up to the ICC, including the UK, Germany, France, Japan and Italy, are now cutting it off at the knees by refusing to fully fund it.

"We urge our government to ask it to restate its commitment to bring perpetrators to justice and making sure victims receive reparation for the heinous crimes perpetrated against them," Marczyski added.

Prior to the ICC new Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda’sswearing in on 15 June this year, rights groups including Human Rights Watch warned of serious challenges ahead.  Among them, the lack of a political will from African and world leaders to cooperate with the ICC.

Since 1994 Amnesty International has campaigned together with thousands of non-governmental organisations from across the globe for the establishment of a permanent international court to bring to justice the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

That campaign came to fruition when the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, came into force on July 1, 2002 and the first 60 states signed up. 

Ten years later, that number has more than doubled to 121 states parties from all continents.

Written by Modou S. Joof 

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