December 19, 2011

Government unsure about World Court's credibility

The Namibian government has said it is committed to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in appropriate cases, but expressed misgivings over what it sees as the biased stance of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In accordance with the Rome Statute which constituted the ICC, the UNSC can enforce the maintenance of international peace and security. Eveline Nawases Taeyele, head of the Namibian delegation to the 10th session of the assembly of state parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC in New York - from December 12 to 21 - said recent events in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire raised concerns that there may not be "even-handedness" with those accused of having committed crimes. She said the recent transfer of former Ivorian President Laurent Ggabo to the ICC without including possible perpetrators from the other party in the conflict "may reinforce a feeling that the ICC is presiding over a process where only the victor would enjoy justice by having punished those who are alleged to have committed crimes against supporters of the victor".

On behalf of the Namibian government she expressed the hope that the ICC prosecutor would also act against perpetrators of crime from the ranks of the government in Côte d'Ivoire. Furthermore, she said the Namibian government is concerned with the inaction of the UNSC on the situation in Darfur, saying the UNSC should consider all positive proposals for a resolution to the problem, especially from regional groups like the African Union (AU).

Some African countries have earlier expressed concerns over the implications of the UNSC's inaction in the Omar al Bashir deferral, which led to the adoption of a number of resolutions by the AU not to cooperate with the ICC on matters such as the execution of warrants of arrest. Nawases Taeyele said this inaction also prompted the AU to actively explore regional avenues to try those indicted on the African continent through institutions such as the African Court on Human and People's Rights, which could be empowered to try serious crimes of international concern to processes of fighting impunity. "This course of action would not be necessary if this [ICC] was perceived to act even-handedly," Nawases Taeyele stressed, pointing out that some states' failure to make arrests and refusal to cooperate with the ICC are direct results of the inaction of the UNSC on the AU request. This state of affairs, she said, undermines the credibility of the ICC, which she said seems powerless to force the UNSC to act. (The Namibian)

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