A human rights lawyer and lecturer at the Queens University, Belfast School of Law in the UK, Dr Yassin Brunger, wants individual countries to be responsible for the adjudication of violations committed within their territories and not always look up to the International Criminal Court ICC.
Speaking at a side event at the 15th Session of the Assembly of State Parties in The Hague, Dr Brunger said the ICC alone will not be able to provide justice to all victims of human rights abuse.
“While you will have over 5,000 victims, there are many more countless victims whose stories are not represented in the courtrooms of The Hague. Where we should be looking at is back to the avenue of state action and state responses to be able to address accountability and impunity for victims living in situation countries”.
Ms Brunger also said victims of human rights abuses “are owned justice much more local than sometimes we talk about in the context of the ICC”, quoting the American politician and activist, Eleanor Roosevelt, who believed “human rights starts at small places”.
“It’s all about the locality. We all have the responsibility to start justice locally. Justice starts at small places”, she said.
She also advocated for a “gender-centered approach” in all of the ICC’s dealings and not only at the offices of the prosecutor OTP.
“When we talk about gender, it needs to be a court-wide approach. Without it, we fail in our mandate to move the agenda of gender based and sexual crimes forward. We do a disservice to victims and we do not show a thorough commitment to addressing an issue that affects a multitude of states across our globe”, she told the panel, which dissected the conviction of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo of the Democratic Republic of Congo by the ICC on 21st March, 2016.
Bemba was convicted of rape as a crime against humanity and as a war crime for sexual violence committed by forces under his command during the 2002/2003 operation in the Central African Republic.
This has been yielded as a critical juncture in both the ICC’s history and for accountability for conflict-related sexual violence.
The panel considered the potential impact of the conviction for survivors and victims of gender-based violence in the Central African Republic. It also located the judgment within the broader trajectories of international criminal law and considered its implications for policy and jurisprudence surrounding accountability for sexual violence at the ICC going forward.
By: Eugenia Tenkorang/citifmonline.com/Ghana