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Day of reckoning for rapists, others

Posted by By Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye on 2005/08/18 | Views: 319 |

Day of reckoning for rapists, others

If you are in the habit of perpetrating crimes against humanity,it’s high time you changed because the International Criminal Court (ICC) has come to stay.

If you are in the habit of perpetrating crimes against humanity,it’s high time you changed because the International Criminal Court (ICC) has come to stay.

This and more were revealed during a media training workshop on the ICC which was organised by the Nigeria Coalition on International Criminal Court (NCICC) with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

According to Sindi Medar Goulde, the ICC is a permanent court capable of investigating and trying individuals accused of the most serious violations of the International humanitarian law like war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Unlike the International Court of Justice whose jurisdiction is restricted to States, the ICC would consider cases against individuals. And unlike the Rwandan and Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunals created to consider crimes committed around these conflicts, its jurisdiction would not be situation specific.

"The jurisdiction of the ICC is not retroactive but commenced from the Ist of July, when the Statute came into force. ICC would act as a deterrent to people planning to commit grave offences under International law. It would prompt National and State prosecutors who have the primary responsibility to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice to do so. Victims and their families would have the chance to obtain justice and truth, and begin the process of reconciliation. It would be a major step towards ending impunity and enhancing respect for human rights thereby consolidating democracy in Nigeria", she said.

Goulde revealed that the statute of the ICC included crimes of sexual violence such as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution and forced pregnancy. They are also considered war crimes when committed in either international or internal armed conflict.

She said: "In Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, rape and gender-based violence were widely used as weapons to inflict terror and to humiliate and degrade women of a particular ethnic group as well as the entire community to which they belonged. In prosecuting cases of rape and other gender-based violations, the ad hoc tribunals found that victims were often afraid to come forward with their stories and even feared being victimised by the process.

"To help victims face the judicial process, the ICC would have a victims and witnesses unit to provide protective measures and security arrangements, counselling and other assistance for them, while fully respecting the rights of the accused and protecting their privacy."

Allaying the fears in some quarters that ICC would supplant State laws, the secretary to the NCIC, Mohammed Ibrahim said that States would still have primary jurisdiction over crimes committed in their territories. According to him, the ICC would complement, not supersede the jurisdiction of national courts.

He said: " National courts would continue to have priority in investigating and prosecuting crimes within their jurisdiction. Under the principle of complimentarity, the ICC would act only when national courts are unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction. If a national court is willing and able to exercise jurisdiction, the ICC cannot intervene and no nationals of the state can be brought before it."
Dapo Olorunyomi, one of the speakers at the two-day programme, called on journalists to be more informed about the ICC because it was essential to reach out to the public and in particular, to the communities directly affected by the conflict.

He said: "The Nigerian media can hold its own anywhere in the world and the sustenance of the democracy in the country lies on the media. If the court is to be widely understood and accepted, and serve as a deterrent for would be violators who otherwise commit the appalling crimes under the ICC’S jurisdiction, a well informed and global media is vital."

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Comments (3)

Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.