President Ian Khama was this week full of praise for the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Speaking at the signing ceremony of the 2010 Kampala Ratification Amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC Khama described the ICC as a true embodiment of the aspirations of the international community.
He told a packed Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) conference hall that the court had transformed the enforcement of the international justice system and successfully brought relief and hope to victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“However, as state parties, we need to do more in order to close the existing impunity gap by, among other actions, upholding the provisions of the statutes that we signed for,” he said.
Khama signed the instrument at the official opening of the two-day workshop on the ratification of the 2009 Kampala amendments with respect to the crime of aggression.
He noted that 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 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.
Khama 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.
Defence, Justice and Security Minister Dikgakgamatso Seretse said Botswana was greatly honoured to host and being amongst countries that were leading the campaign on the ratification and implementation of the Kampala amendments.
“This is the first meeting of African state parties to the Rome statute on the Kmpala amendments to be held on the African continent.
We are greatly honoured to be counted among countries that are leading the campaign on the ratification and implementation of the Kampala amendments,” Seretse said.
The two-day workshop was co-sponsored by the Principality of Lichtenstein and the Government of Botswana.