A Supreme Court judge, Justice Sophia Akuffo, has deplored the constant bastardisation and politicisation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by individuals and institutions, which has created an atmosphere of doubt and suspicion about the court, thereby clouding its genuine purpose.
She stated that the ultimate enemy of the international criminal justice system had been the political talks, queries and musings which cast doubt and scepticism to undermine the noble and bold promises of the ICC and its regime.
Stop bastardising ICC
Justice Akuffo was speaking at the launch of the African Centre of International Criminal Justice (ACICJ) at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) last Wednesday. She expressed regret about recent decisions and calls by some African states to boycott and withdraw their membership from the ICC.
The ACICJ, which is a study centre located at GIMPA, is the first of its kind in West Africa. It was established with the objective to bring international criminal law (ICL) to the doorstep of Ghanaians.
It will be opened to the public and would thus develop a curricula in ICL for the people to appreciate what ICL is all about.
The centre was funded within an initial 100,000 Euros from the Netherlands Embassy while GIMPA donated one of its floors to be used as office space.
Justice Akuffo submitted that the overwhelming politics of dissension and opponents of the ICC had continued to exploit the controversies surrounding its creation to a self-seeking advantage.
“The sole gainers in a failed regime of international criminal justice are the abusers of human rights, criminals and the perpetrators of crimes against humanity who seek to leverage their power into assurance impunity,” the incoming Chief Justice emphasised.
She noted that as long as the empty attacks continued about the ICC, the suffering, destructions and deaths would not cease, adding that if African countries continued to deny the very existence of acts of international criminality and accountability, impunity would reign.
Justice Akuffo, therefore, underscored the need for more to be done to convince sceptics that international criminal justice was entirely about justice and not politics.
She also suggested to the court to move from being perceived as an institution dedicated to delivering international justice to one that intimately related to the people.
A Prosecutor at the ICC, Madam Fatou Bensouda, who was the guest of honour, described the centre as a repository of knowledge of international criminal justice in Africa and urged Ghanaians to take advantage of it.
She challenged the youth, in particular, to seek more knowledge by taking ‘courageous’ courses in the quest to transform society.
A former Vice-President of the ICC, Professor Akua Kuenyehia, who chaired the function, said the centre provided a unique opportunity to create awareness of the mission of the ICC and international criminal justice.
She urged users of the centre to effectively exploit it to influence society.