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High-Level Seminar in Dakar Focusing on Co-operation With International Criminal Court

28.06.2013

No 215-E

On 24 June a high-level seminar for the ministers of many French-speaking African countries is took place in Dakar, Senegal, which focused on the countries’ co-operation with the International Criminal Court (ICC). The seminar focused more specifically on witness protection. Estonia is one co-sponsor of the seminar and the opening address was given by President of the International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties Tiina Intelmann.

In her address, Tiina Intelmann emphasised that the creation of the International Criminal Court is one of the most important international steps taken towards strengthening global justice. “It is essential to fight against impunity and the perpetration of brutal crimes. In addition to the court, all the countries that have ratified the Rome Statute also play an important role in this fight,” she noted.

Every state must ensure that they have the possibility to initiate an investigation domestically and administer justice over perpetrators of serious international crimes. “It is essential that the countries be able to strengthen their domestic justice systems, since the ICC should be the last resort for administering justice,” Intelmann emphasised.

The president of the ICC Assembly of States Parties also noted that strengthening witness protection is also an important part of improving the justice system in various countries. “For example, The International Criminal Court carries out investigations in many African countries in the conditions of ongoing or recently ended conflicts, where ensuring the security of witnesses can often be problematic,” Intelmann explained.

The ICC would like to conclude witness protection agreements that would allow witnesses in danger to be relocated to other countries with a greater number of African countries. “Without effective witness protection, it is not possible to carry out legal proceedings,” Intelmann explained. “At the same time, countries can only get involved in witness protection agreements voluntarily, and the 13 witness protection agreements that have been concluded thus far are not enough to ensure the safety of witnesses who are being relocated,” she added.
The ICC would like to have better co-operation with countries in this area.

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