The Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, says Ghana is and will remain committed to the principles and work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which exist primarily to fight impunity everywhere in the world.
Ghana, according to the Attorney General, is governed on the basis of respect for human rights and thus has no difficulty at all in supporting the work of the International Criminal Court.
Addressing an international conference held in Dakar, Senegal from 23 to 25 May, 2022, to celebrate twenty (20) years of the establishment of the ICC, Godfred Dame, said Ghana’s unwavering support for the ICC, is anchored on her own respect for the rule of law and respect for the fundamental human rights of all her citizens and humanity at large.
“The nation’s recognition and support for the work of the ICC are part of her cherished tradition and culture in the promotion and protection of international human rights and international courts set up with the object of consolidating such values”.
“Ghana was the 6th country to sign the Rome Statute. She was also one of the first countries to ratify the treaty when the Ghanaian Parliament voted unanimously for ratification of the treaty” the AG, Godfred Dame said.
Ghana’s ICC record
To drive home Ghana’s position on the ICC, the Attorney General noted: “It is imperative to indicate that Ghana has been steadfast in upholding the tents of the Rome statute. Remarkably, Ghana was not one of the nations of the African Union which voted to pass a non-binding resolution in Addis Ababa in January, 2017 for a mass withdrawal from the ICC”.
“Further, a prominent citizen of Ghana, Professor Akua Kuenyehia served as a judge of the ICC from 2003 to 2015, and was actually the 1st Vice-President for 6 years from 2003 to 2009”.
“We recently ensured the election of a prominent Justice of the Court of Appeal, Sir Dennis Adjei as a member of the Advisory Committee of the ICC, the body responsible for nominating judges of the ICC” Dame said.
The political stability in Ghana, which has seen the nation avoiding a “coup d’etat in over forty (40) years and the sustained practice of democracy under a written Constitution for the past thirty (30) years, Godfred Dame, observed, “has placed Ghana in a position where we can confidently assert that we have contributed and continue to contribute positively to the establishment of a world order devoid of impunity”.
The situation in Ghana, the AG noted has rather resulted in a country that is “dominated by respect for the basic norms of human rights and good governance”.
Need for reforms
In his statement, the AG suggested that if state parties to the Rome Statute “genuinely desire the ICC to be effective”, then, there is the need to “pay due regard to the concerns of African countries bordering on the need for some reforms in the operations of the ICC”.
“These reforms essentially relate to the perception that the ICC was set up with the prime purpose of prosecuting only African leaders. For the Court to be a credible institution for the enforcement of international justice, the Court must pay attention to the call for some reforms in its operations” the AG said.
“The ICC is yet to effectively dispel the notion that its work is based solely on the consideration that the most serious crimes of concern to the entire international community must not go unpunished, and that, prosecution is not based on other considerations or motives”.
“It is important in this regard, for powerful nations of the world to become members of the ICC, so as to banish the perception that the Court was set up to victimize Africans” he added.
The ICC remains to date, the most successful form of inter-State collaboration on the establishment of a system of international criminal justice to investigate, prosecute and try perpetrators of mass crimes of concern to the international community.
The origins of this system of international criminal justice date back to the Nuremberg and Tokyo military tribunals which were set up at the end of the Second World War to try specific cases of international concern.
The resurgence, around the World particularly in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Liberia, of mass atrocities which shocked the conscience of humanity, convinced the world to provide a permanent solution for the prosecution of international crimes, to aid in the fight against impunity instead of the old ad hoc responses.
Against this background, on 17 July 1998, the international community adopted the Rome Statute – the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court, to provide for a permanent jurisdiction set up to prosecute crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
The Dakar conference
Slated to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the International Criminal Court’s entry into operation, the Dakar conference served as a platform for strengthening cooperation between the Court and States Parties to devise means for a better fight against the impunity of serious and related crimes.
The conference was opened by the President of Senegal, His Excellency Macky Sall. Organizers of the conference believed that it offered an opportunity to strengthen the capacities of national courts to complement the ICC’s quest for international justice. Specifically, the goals of the Dakar conference were to:
First, “to take stock of past cooperation and complementarity initiatives between the ICC and States Parties to the Rome Statute within the ECOWAS and beyond.
Second, “identify the efforts to be made and strategies to be adopted by ECOWAS Member States and other States in the region to become more effective in the fight against impunity of serious crimes”.
Lastly, “to reflect on the possibility of establishing a mechanism that will allow States Parties to prosecute serious crimes discovered by the ICC in the course of its investigations that fall outside its jurisdiction”.
Participants included the Ministers of Justice of the 15 ECOWAS Member States, the Ministers of Justice of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and of the Republics of Chad and the Central African Republic, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC), President of the ICC, Head of the European Union Delegation to Senegal and the Ambassador of Uganda to the Netherlands.