Foreign Affairs Committee hears of growing acceptance of International Criminal Court

December 17th, 2013 - Pat Breen

17 December 2013

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade this morning heard of the growing acceptance globally of the International Criminal Court in ensuring that the most serious crimes do not go unpunished.

Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was before the Committee to discuss the work of a Court established to try those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Chairman of the Committee Pat Breen TD says: “On behalf of the Committee, I wish to thank Ms Bensouda for a detailed and candid summary of the recent work of the International Criminal Court. Noting the majority of the Court’s cases relate to Africa, Ms Bensouda robustly refuted the argument within certain circles in Africa that the ICC is a tool of the West. She said that 34 out of Africa’s 54 states have now taken the sovereign decision to voluntarily sign the Rome Statute, which governs the running of the Court. In addition, a growing number of cases are referred to the Court by signatory countries in Africa. She stressed that the ICC was a Court of last resort: the main aim was to encourage national systems to function properly.”

“122 States have so far signed up to the Rome Statute. Ms Bensouda advised the Committee of the difficulties in securing jurisdiction in non-signatory countries. In response to the possibility of the Court intervening to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Syria, Ms Bensouda said that as Syria had not signed the Rome Statute, the ICC could not investigate such cases without a referral from the UN Security Council. In response to concerns expressed by members regarding gender based violence, she said that she was urgently working to strengthen the Court’s response to crimes against women and girls.

Deputy Breen continues: “Ireland is a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court and is currently negotiating a Witness Re-Location Agreement with the Court. The Committee heard that interference of witnesses was a huge challenge for the Court and of the great lengths the ICC goes to in ensuring the integrity of cases. While securing the protection of witnesses in their home countries was a priority, the Committee was told of the importance of having an option to effectively and safely relocate witnesses.”

View photo of Deputy Breen with Ms Bensouda: