On 6 May 2011, Judge Daniel David Nsereko Ntanda, from the Appeals Division of the International Criminal Court (ICC), completed a two-day visit to Kampala, Uganda. During this visit, he addressed the legal community and civil society organisations on the relationship between the ICC and Africa and the possibilities for African legal professionals to join the ICC list of counsel and assistants to counsel authorized to practice before the Court.
On 5 May, the Outreach Unit, in partnership with the Ugandan Coalition for the ICC (UCICC) organised a public lecture on the topic “ICC’s relationship with Africa” for civil society groups with Judge Nsereko Ntanda as guest speaker. The lecture was attended by 65 representatives of civil society groups drawn from Kampala and from the communities affected by crimes under ICC investigation coming from the Acholi, Teso, Madi and Lango sub-regions of north and northeastern Uganda.
In his presentation, Judge Nsereko Ntanda stressed that the ICC is not targeting African states, nor is it a Western imposition on the African continent and its peoples, as perceived by some actors; the ICC is an institution created by an international treaty, the Rome Statute, to which states in the exercise of their national sovereignty join freely and voluntarily. Currently, 31 African States are parties to the Rome Statute. The judge maintained that Africa needs the ICC and declared that the “Rome Statute is an organic or living law, which can be used expansively to advance the interests of humanity”. Concluding his lecture, the ICC judge stated that, “the Rome Statute is a big step forward in enhancing the role international law in that it criminalizes conduct that flagrantly violates basic human rights and constitutes the most serious crimes known to humanity – aggression, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”. He underlined that, “to be effective, the Court needs the support and cooperation of states: to refer situations to the Court, to assist the surrender of suspects to the Court; and to facilitate the attendance if witnesses’’. Judge Nsereko Ntanda also urged members of the civil society to continue playing their vital role in helping the Court through advocacy and the rendering of expert advice to States Parties and other sections of the Court.
The Coordinator of the UCICC, Ms Joyce Freda Apio, expressed her appreciation to the Court for facilitating the judge’s visit. She called on the Court to explore a more robust mechanism to facilitate interaction between elected court officials and key stakeholders as a way of countering the misperception regarding the Court’s relationship with Africa. Following the lecture, several questions, concerns and comments were raised mainly on the issues of victims’ reparations, the scope of investigation, enforcement of ICC arrest warrants and witness protection.
During the course of his visit, the judge addressed, on 6 May, 350 members of the legal community during the Annual General Meeting of the Ugandan Law Society. Over 100 of the attendees were female lawyers who are practicing in various Ugandan Courts. Judge Nsereko Ntanda noted that few African female lawyers are currently admitted on the ICC List of Counsel and Assistants to Counsel authorised to represent either victims or defendants who appear before the Court. He took the opportunity to encourage female lawyers to take advantage of the campaign Calling African Female Lawyers, which was launched last year in June during the Review Conference.
Mr Sam Sasan Shoamanesh from the Counsel Support Section, created within the ICC Registry, participated in the meeting and gave an overview of the application process for admission on the List of Counsel and Assistants to Counsel maintained by the Registrar. He also explained the international experience, training and other benefits lawyers will acquire, as well as the ICC Legal Aid Programme.
Speaking on behalf of the legal community, the President of the Uganda Law Society, Mr Bruce Kyerere, thanked the ICC for following up on the Calling African Female Lawyers Campaign that started last year. He also called on the lawyers present to take advantage of the ongoing campaign to sign up to the ICC List of Counsel, which will empower them to gain relevant international experience.
The situation in Uganda was referred to the Court by that State Party on 29 January 2004. The Prosecutor opened an investigation into the situation on 29 July 2004. Five warrants of arrest have been issued against top members of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Uganda since July 2002. Following the confirmed death of Raska Lukwiya, the proceedings against him have been terminated. The four remaining suspects are still at large.
For further information please contact Maria Mabinty Kamara, Field Outreach Coordinator for Uganda at +256-772-700655 or Maria.Kamara@icc-cpi.int