On International Criminal Justice Vital- Justice Akuffo |

Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo, the incoming Chief Justice, has called for the creation of local constituents within countries to advocate and educate persons on international criminal justice and the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Speaking at the launch of the African Centre on International Criminal Justice (ACICJ) at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Justice Akuffo said the ICC continued to be struck by varying challenges to its jurisdiction, legitimacy and effectiveness.

She said both signatory and non-signatory nations, organisations and individuals had persistently probed the motives behind its establishment and decried its objectives while others had “cynically rebuked the membership dynamics of the Roman Statute”.

Justice Akuffo noted that the ultimate enemy of the international criminal justice system had remained politics which had “created an atmosphere of doubt, suspicion and scepticism, that threaten to overshadow the nobleness and bold promises of the court and its regime”.

She described the recent decisions and calls by some African states for mass boycott and withdrawal of membership from the Rome Statute system as worrisome.

She observed that they cast a “disturbing and gloomy shadow over the prospects for sustaining and strengthening the international criminal justice regime on the continent, where its protective and preventive benefits are so direly required”.

She, warned that “continuance of the politicisation of international criminal justice and the formation of coalitions against the Court would only serve the interests of elements who wished our continent and society ill”.

She explained that the international criminal justice was exclusively about justice and not politics, adding: “The ICC is for the people and its engagement with the people is simply the right thing to do.”

Justice Akuffo commended the establishment of the Centre and expressed the hope that it would build synergies between academia, civil society, political and policy communities as well as the judiciary and justice institutions to share in the interest of the ICC’s work.

She was confident that the Centre would be a hub of intellectual energy on international criminal justice as well as provide an avenue for building a community of supportive stakeholders and constructive opponents of the Court’s work.

Madam Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the ICC, said Africa had not only played a key role in the establishment of the Court but also in its development and in the evolution of international criminal justice.

She said the establishment of the African Centre on International Criminal Justice was yet another important contribution to that legacy.

She noted that prospects of the Centre looked good and should be utilised.