From 28 February to 1 March, the President of the Assembly of States Parties (“the Assembly”), Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, visited Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania. During the visit she participated in a high-level conference to commemorate the tenth Anniversary of the International Criminal Court (“the Court”). Speaking at the opening of the conference, President Intelmann recalled the crucial role African States had played in the establishment of the Court. She underlined that, while not always smooth, the relationship between Africa and the Court is strong because it is based on the shared fundamental value of fighting impunity for atrocity crimes. She also reminded participants that victims are at the heart of the Rome Statute system. “When we speak of the fight against impunity, we think first of all of the perpetrators of crimes who are brought to justice. But, at the same time, we must think of the victims of these atrocities.”
The ICC Prosecutor, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, delivered the keynote address on Africa’s support for the ICC. “As States Parties begin to adopt internal legislations to enable them to investigate and prosecute crimes, justice starts to flow to ordinary Africans who have long suffered from these crimes. We must stand prepared to counter those voices which seek to draw attention away from the plight of victims, and to dismiss the role of criminal justice for achieving peace. […] We must stand united to ensure that this powerful tool that we all believe in – the rule of law – can serve humankind equally and consistently to redress the imbalance between the criminals who wield power and the victims who suffer at their hands. This is the only way to ensure durable and lasting peace to our societies.”
The conference was organized by Africa Legal Aid (AFLA) with the aim to increase the understanding of the Court as well as to promote ratification of the Rome Statute in Africa. Nearly 100 representatives from civil society, academia and governments participated in the conference.
During her visit the President met, inter alia, with the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Judge Vagn Joensen, the ICTR Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Hassan Bubacar Jallow, the ICTR Registrar, Mr. Christopher Bongani Majola, the President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ms. Sophia A. B. Akuffo, and with the Secretary-General of the East African Community, Ambassador Richard Sezibera.