4. Juni 2009

ICC President Song Starts His First Official Visit to African States Parties

Monday 1 June 2009 President Sang-Hyun Song of the International Criminal Court (ICC) started his first official visit to African States Parties since taking office in March this year. He will be travelling to Tanzania, Lesotho and Botswana from 1 to 6 June to meet with senior representatives of each government.

Thirty African states make up the largest regional group of a total 108 States Parties to the Rome Statute, the Court's founding instrument. "It is of high importance to the International Criminal Court to maintain dialogue with the continent that has been engaged in every aspect of the Court's work since its establishment", said President Song.

He will begin the visit on 1 June in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) where he will hold meetings with senior officials including the Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Minister Bernard Membe and Justice Minister Mathias Chikawe. In Lesotho on 4 June he will be received by Prime Minister Bethuel Mosisili and other senior officials. On 5 June in Botswana, President Song will meet with President Ian Khama, Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani and other senior officials.

President Song will reflect on the importance of the implementation of the Rome Statute into domestic legislation. "Complementarity is essential in that it underlines the collective responsibility of the world to put a stop to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. As many countries as possible should adopt legislation to enable credible domestic prosecutions of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. That will make trials in The Hague less necessary, bring justice closer to the victims, and bolster a comprehensive system to end impunity for the worst crimes known to humanity. The stronger this system becomes, the greater the deterrent effect on potential future atrocities", he emphasised.

President Song will also be travelling through South Africa and will use this opportunity to participate in a seminar at the Institute for Security Studies entitled, "The International Criminal Court: Working for Africa". President Song looks forward to returning to South Africa for an official visit before the end of the year.

The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It was established by an international treaty, the Rome Statute.

To date, three States Parties to the Rome Statute - Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic - have referred situations occurring on their territories to the Court. In addition, the Security Council has referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan a non-State Party. (ICC)

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