DON’T ABAN­DON ICC – GOLD­STONE

Work to in­crease the reach of ICC to more states, rather than give up on this tool for in­ter­na­tional jus­tice, urges for­mer in­ter­na­tional pros­e­cu­tor

CityPress - - Front Page - STAFF RE­PORTER news@city­press.co.za

As South Africa con­tem­plates its next move af­ter a dra­matic week in which it failed to ar­rest Su­dan’s Pres­i­dent Omar al-Bashir, for­mer Con­sti­tu­tional Court Jus­tice Richard Gold­stone has of­fered coun­sel.

Gold­stone con­cedes that although some crit­i­cism of the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) makes sense, South Africa should rather work to make the ICC more in­clu­sive of coun­tries that are cur­rently out­side of its reach.

Gold­stone says South Africa should be putting its re­sources and sym­pa­thies with the vic­tims of mass mur­der and rape, rather than be­ing con­cerned with grant­ing im­mu­nity to vis­it­ing heads of state.

Gold­stone said South Africa had orig­i­nally played a key role in hav­ing the Rome Statute ap­proved as it de­sired to stop im­punity for war crim­i­nals.

“I would sug­gest that if there was no ICC, the na­tions of the world would be clam­our­ing for one to be es­tab­lished,” he said.

In­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected lawyer and for­mer Con­sti­tu­tional Court Judge Richard Gold­stone has urged the South African gov­ern­ment to fight for all na­tions to join the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC), in­stead of aban­don­ing it.

Some of the more pow­er­ful na­tions that have not rat­i­fied the Rome Statute in­clude the US, Rus­sia, China and In­dia.

Gold­stone told City Press that South Africa’s ac­tions this week were a set­back for re­spect for the rule of law in South Africa.

Gold­stone worked as a pros­e­cu­tor for the UN In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal that looked into crim­i­nal mat­ters re­gard­ing the for­mer Yu­goslavia and Rwanda in the 1990s.

He said that al­low­ing Su­danese pres­i­dent Omar al-Bashir to leave the coun­try had been the first clear case in which the gov­ern­ment had flouted an or­der of one of its courts.

“There can be no doubt that the pro­vi­sions of the Geno­cide Con­ven­tion and the Rome Statute (both now part of our own do­mes­tic law) took prece­dence in in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic law over the im­punity of vis­it­ing heads of state, upon which the gov­ern­ment now seeks to rely.”

Gold­stone said it would be a se­ri­ously neg­a­tive step for the coun­try to with­draw its rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Rome Statute.

Re­spond­ing to crit­i­cism that the ICC was tar­get­ing African states, Gold­stone said it had to be ac­knowl­edged that the eight cases be­fore the ICC were all from Africa.

But he pointed out that, of the eight, four had been re­ferred by the African gov­ern­ments con­cerned, two by the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and only the re­main­ing two had been brought be­fore the ICC by its own pros­e­cu­tor.

He said it was also true that some coun­tries had been shielded from the ICC by pow­er­ful states.

These in­cluded war-torn Syria, which Rus­sia had blocked from be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the ICC.

He said it was also sig­nif­i­cant that the ICC’s pros­e­cu­tor was cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing a num­ber of non-African states, in­clud­ing some in Latin Amer­ica and the Mid­dle East.

Gold­stone said that in de­cid­ing whether to pull out of the ICC, thought also needed to be given to the vic­tims of mass mur­der or geno­cide.

“The case of al-Bashir’s Su­dan is a case in point – more than 300 000 killed, tens of thou­sands of women raped and two and a half mil­lion peo­ple ren­dered home­less.

“Those crimes re­sulted in al-Bashir be­ing sought for geno­cide, war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity.”

LET’S NOT BE HASTY

Richard Gold­stone

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