From 25 to 26 June 2013, the President of the Assembly of States Parties (“the Assembly”), Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, participated in a high level seminar on witness protection in Dakar, Senegal. The seminar, organized by Norway and co-sponsored by Estonia and the Netherlands, in cooperation with the International Criminal Court (“the Court”), was held at the Goree Institute and gathered Ministers of Justice and Prosecutors from nine francophone African States Parties to the Rome Statute. The seminar focused on the reinforcement of national capacities in the area of witness protection and the sharing of experiences among participants and the Court in this crucial domain.
The seminar was opened by the Minister of Justice of Senegal, Madam Aminata Touré who reiterated the strong commitment of Senegal, as the first State to have ratified the Rome Statute in 1999, to the fight against impunity at the national and international level. She indicated that Senegal was currently considering the ratification of the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the ICC as well as the amendments on the crime of aggression, and would consider entering into relevant bilateral agreements with the Court to facilitate its mandate. Several participants made similar pledges, with a view to reinforcing their cooperation with the Court.
In her statement, President Intelmann noted the key role played by African States in the negotiations leading to the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998 and their significant representation in the Assembly. She stressed the importance for States Parties to offer continuous cooperation to the Court in order to ensure its effectiveness and recalled the duty of every State Party “to develop the capacity to prosecute serious international crimes domestically” to give effect to the principle of complementarity. Furthermore she stated that the ICC needs strong and proactive support at the highest political and diplomatic levels, in various international fora, and recalled that the ICC is a court of last resort that should be viewed also in the context of the broader rule of law and accountability discussion taking place at the regional and international levels.
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