The President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Piotr Hofmanski has denied the accusations that the Court’s suo moto was to investigate and prosecute only persons of African descent.
Piotr Hofmanski said even though the Court’s initial prosecutions were mostly Africans, it was because some African countries had asked the ICC to intervene.
But currently, he said, the ICC was actively conducting investigations and prosecutions in other parts of the world even though the pending five trials of the Court were cases of the African continent.
Piotr Hofmanski, who paid a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House on Tuesday, said the ICC was currently prosecuting and investigating 16 other cases from all over the world—African, South America, Asia and Europe— over crimes under its jurisdiction.
The last opening situation on investigations of the prosecutor’s office, Piotr Hofmanski, disclosed were mainly cases from Asia — Myanmar, Palestine, Afghanistan, South America —Venezuela and in Europe — Georgia and Ukraine.
The landscape of the ICC prosecutions, according to the ICC President, had changed as “we have become more and more universal, just as the ICC aimed to provide justice for all countries of the world to close up the gap of impunity.
“And this is exactly what we do” he stated, adding; “but of course, it is never enough” as the Court needed to do more to galvanise support to build the moral universal situation for other countries to join.
As President of the Court, Piotr Hofmanski said it was one of his priorities to convince and attract other countries to join the ICC to engender world peace and security.
To achieve that goal, he said it was imperative that the ICC cooperated with countries, not only to convince them to ratify the ICC status but also to domesticate and implement the mechanism of cooperation with the ICC.
That, he said, was the area where Ghana needed to do more, especially with the adaptation of the Rome Status to ensure that the country’s courts tried perpetrators of genocide, crime against humanity and war crimes.
But that, Piotr Hofmanski indicated, was the sovereign decision for the Ghanaian Parliament to make at its own time.
Ghana has been urged by some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), to adopt the Bill for the Rome Status of the International Criminal Court to ensure national courts, try perpetrators of genocide, crime against humanity and war crimes.
Ghana accepted a recommendation of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2012 to domesticate the ICC status in November 2017.
If the bill is passed, it would enable the country’s courts to prosecute perpetrators of the ICC Status crimes as well as transfer cases to the ICC that domestic courts are unable to prosecute.
Ghana has been commended for its original commitment to the ICC, as the second African country to ratify the International Court, but has not given the status effect under domestic law.
Piotr Hofmanski underscored the role Ghana played in the ratification of the status of the ICC which had not only provided additional funding support for the Court, but also political support.
On his part, President Akufo-Addo said the work of the ICC was one of the few areas where there was broad political support in the country.
The President said the country’s Parliament that ratified the Treaty in 1999 was the Parliament dominated at the time by the present opposition and soon after his party, the New Patriotic Party took office in 2001, he as the then Attorney-General participated in the ceremony that brought the treaty to effect.
He directed that the Attorney-General took steps to domesticate the Roman status so that the country’s courts could try crimes under genocide, crime against humanity, and war crimes, as well as transfer cases to the ICC when the need arises.
President Akufo-Addo said though the current Parliament was a hanged one “we can support it to become a reality.”
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD