‘Gambia should reconsider withdrawal from the ICC’ – says ‘disappointed’ prosecutor

By Sanna Camara

Hassan Bubacarr Jallow, Gambian ex-prosecutor for the International criminal Tribuanl, has expressed disappointment at his country’s declaration of intent to withdraw from the ICC, urging Banjul to reconsider its position.

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Justice Hassan B. jallow “disappointed” at Gambia’s withdrawal bid 

The government of Gambia announced on October 25th that it will withdraw from the ICC due to what it says was warranted by the ICC being “an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans”.

Shortly after the announcement, Justice Hassan Jallow said despite registering his disappointment and how this potentially closes an avenue for victims for justice, the government went ahead and made the declaration. Besides justice Jallow, the current chief prosecutor of the ICC is also Gambian. But this fact did not stop government’s declaration to withdraw.

“I appealed to the government to reconsider its position…. I also appealed to the court (Rome Statute) system to really initiate dialogue; they should take steps to invite states concerned to come forward directly or through facilitators such as The Africa Group so that a discussion can take pace,” Justice Jallow said at a panel discussion in The Hague yesterday.

Overwhelming support from Africa

Meanwhile, the ICC has got an overwhelming support from the African states here at the ongoing Assembly of State Parties in The Hague. A judge from South Africa on The Africa Group said President Jacob Zuma is up for a big challenge in the courts if he wants to go through with plans to withdraw from the ICC.

“Steps have already been taken to challenge the constitutionality of South Africa’s withdrawal from the ICC. This is because there are plans to domesticate the Rome Statute before the withdrawal announcement,” he said.

Russia’s announcement on November 16 that it would not join the ICC is far from being big news for the court, Human Rights Watch said. Although it signed the ICC treaty, Russia never ratified it and thus was never a member, said Elizabeth Evenson, associate international justice director, Human Rights Watch.

According to the Human Rights Watch, Africa on the other hand led the efforts to establish the ICC in the 1990s. Hence it is vital for African states to defend its core principles today.

Committed, unwavering support

Uganda announced it strongly “remained committed” to the ICC and to strengthening domestic accountability for atrocity crimes. Nigeria expresses “unwavering support” and “stands solidly” with the ICC, it said it remains firmly committed to rule of law.

Court of last resort

Burkina Faso affirms its commitment to Rome Statue and “unwavering support to combat impunity.” Senegal reminds states that ICC is a court of last resort and that only steps in when states are unable or unwilling to prosecute crimes.

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It is important for countries to remain – ICC president of ICC Silvia Fernandez (middle) 

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said ICC is not designed or able to be omnipresent. She said it can only try handful of cases and most crimes must be tried domestically.

“The ICC is just one part of the global justice system, and it is a last resort court. This means that it is the last line of defense and so it is important that states remain in the Rome statute…even more important that more parties join the system,” said the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi.

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