Research and education think tank, Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) has urged the Akufo-Addo administration to prioritise the passage of the International Criminal Court Bill to give effect to the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ghana.
The Rome Statute set up the ICC at The Hague, Netherlands, with the power to try persons who commit international crimes such as crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes when a state is unwilling or unable to prosecute such persons.
When passed into law, Ghana’s ICC law will provide the legal framework for the courts in Ghana to prosecute persons who commit crimes tried by the ICC as well as enable the ICC to prosecute cases that Ghanaian courts are unable to prosecute.
A statement signed by ACILA executive director, Mr. William Nyarko, said that even though Ghana was to be commended for demonstrating support for international justice by ratifying the Rome Statute in 1999 and has since had a distinguished Ghanaian serve as a Judge on the ICC, Ghana was still required to meet its obligations under the Rome Statute and domesticate the Statute.
The statement regretted that Executive action has stalled on the Ghana ICC bill, which was drafted in April 2016, adding that as an early adopter of the Rome Statute in 1998, Ghana should have domesticated the Statute when it came into force in 2002.
It noted that in 2012 when Ghana’s human rights record came up for review at the United Nations Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism in Geneva, Ghana accepted a recommendation to domesticate the Rome Statute by the next review cycle in November 2017.
Ghana’s human rights record will be reviewed again under the UPR in November 2017 but regrettably Ghana has not met its international obligation nearly five years after it had accepted the recommendation, the statement added.
ACILA also urged Ghana to publicly support international justice and the work of the ICC while calling for reforms at the ICC.
The statement noted that the call for Ghana to domesticate the Rome Statute was considered timely coming at a time when there had been persistent calls by majority of African leaders for mass withdrawal from the ICC.
“In addition, Ghana was not among the few countries that voted against the non-binding resolution that was adopted by the African Union on 31 January, 2017, in Addis Ababa for mass withdrawal from the ICC”, it added.
“Although previous administrations in Ghana had not publicly denounced the ICC, the immediate past administration had pursued a two-track approach: ensuring that Ghana did not withdraw from the ICC while at the same time supporting calls for the expansion of the jurisdiction of the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) in Tanzania to prosecute the international crimes that are currently being tried by the ICC”, the statement
In addition, Ghana was also among the first eight countries to follow through with its support for the establishment of the ACJHR when it signed the Malabo Protocol in February 2016. It would take ratifications by 15 African states for the Malabo Protocol to come into force for the criminal jurisdiction of the existing court to take effect. So far, no African state has ratified the Malabo Protocol, but nine states including Ghana, have signed the Malabo Protocol, which provides immunity for sitting heads of state and heads of government.
Story: Kofi Owusu Tawiah