By Lamin Cham
Officials from the International Criminal Court (ICC) yesterday took questions from Gambian and international journalists attending a training on transitional justice on the court’s work, methods of investigation and intervention.
The ICC often comes under criticisms by African leaders and commentators for targeting only African leaders.
Addressing these issues at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, Mr Amady Ba, head of international cooperation at the office of the prosecutor, took up challenges from Gambian journalists wanting to know why the ICC did not intervene in The Gambia at the height of the 2016 political upheavals and before.
“We are very familiar with these comments and I think it is important to again put them in proper perspective. The ICC has procedures and very rigid processes that govern its intervention and in the case of The Gambia, the reports received on the events here did not reach the threshold to trigger ICC intervention,” he said, adding that crimes such as genocide did not happen in The Gambia and there was also no war crimes either since there has not been any war.
He however observed that there were reports about crimes against humanity like torture but the nature or scale has not been big and widespread or found to be a systematic policy of the regime on the population to reach the threshold that will trigger the intervention of the ICC
Mr Ba revealed that when the reports from The Gambia surfaced, the prosecutor actually set up an internal committee to look into the case which is the normal procedure before it could even reach the primary analyses to be followed by opening of formal investigations.
“However, the Gambian case has not even reached the preliminaries because it did not reach the scale and scope outlined in the Rome statute,” Ba said.
He further said the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, “is a very upright personality who is very capable of removing emotions and sentiments from her work in every given case.
“In any case, even if the prosecutor decided to investigate a matter in any nation which she can, in the interest of justice, she must take permission from the judges with a solid justification that must meet the Rome Statutes as to the nature and scope of the alleged crimes,” Bah said.
Going into the future Mr Ba said The Gambia has now taken “a very good step” by reversing the decision to withdraw from the ICC. He said the ICC will help The Gambia in any area requested in its current transitional justice process but only in accordance with its mandate noting that the most important thing for now is that The Gambia now has the political will and resolve to investigate its own alleged violations through the TRRC.
The training which is organised by Trust Africa in partnership with the Embassy of Holland in Dakar ends on Friday.