Sunday, June 21, 2009

Participation of Botswana at the Meeting of African State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

source: Republic of Botswana (18/6/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 16 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


The Minister for Defence, Justice and Security, Hon Dikgakgamatso Ndelu Seretse, led the Botswana delegation to the meeting of African State Parties to the Rome Statute, which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 8-9 June 2009. The delegation also consisted of the Attorney General, Dr. Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme, and Botswana's Permanent Representative to the AU, Mr M. Lesetedi.

The meeting was held pursuant to the February 2009 decision of the Assembly of AU Heads of State, which requested African State parties to the Rome Statute to meet and exchange views on the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in relation to Africa, in particular in the light of the processes initiated against African personalities, and to submit recommendations thereon.

Following robust discussion on the subject, in which the Botswana delegation took an active part, the meeting adopted a number of recommendations for consideration by the Assembly. Most importantly, the meeting reiterated the unflinching commitment of AU member states to combating impunity and promoting democracy, the rule of law and good governance throughout the entire continent.

The meeting recommended an examination by the AU of the implications of t he African Court of Human and People's Rights being empowered to try international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, which would be complementary to national jurisdiction and processes. In this regard, the meeting underlined the need for a programme of cooperation and capacity building to enhance the capacity of legal personnel in member states in areas such as drafting model legislation on international crimes, training police and judicial officers, as well as strengthening cooperation amongst judicial and investigative agencies.

Regarding the processes initiated against certain African personalities, the meeting agreed that the legal recourse provided for in the Rome Statute be followed by any affected party. The Botswana delegation was particularly of the view that a collective response by African States parties was not appropriate.

As a state party to the Rome statute of the ICC, and member of the United Nations, Botswana is highly conscious of, and deeply committed to its obligations under international law. The Botswana delegation to the meeting therefore emphasized the importance of supporting the letter and spirit of the Rome Statute, and pledged Botswana's full support for the work of the International Criminal Court.

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