Malawi Law Society and the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have urged the Malawi government to domesticate the Rome Statute of the ICC in order to enable the domestic courts to prosecute serious crimes including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo and Malawi Law Society president Mandala Mambulasa made these remarks recently in Kasungu at a National Stakeholders consultative meeting on the domestication of the Rome Statute which attracted dignitaries from government, civil society, Malawi Law Commission, Malawi Human Rights Commission, Judiciary amongst others.
The Presidential Advisor on NGOs Mavuto Bamusi was the guest of honour at the meeting.
In his presentation, CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo commended the Malawi government for ‘signing and ratifying the Rome Statute on 3rd March 1999 and 19th September 2002 respectively as a clear expression of government’s commitment towards the global campaign of ending impunity against serious crimes like genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes; and the crime of aggression, and also ensuring that justice is attained in the best interest of the victims of such crimes’.
He however urged government to take a step further to domesticating the statute.
“Malawi needs to go beyond the ratification by domesticating the Rome statute in order to ensure that the domestic legal framework is ably capacitated to prosecute serious crimes as enshrined in the Rome Statute. As you are aware, Rome Statute system builds on the principle that the primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting atrocity crimes lies with the State as the ICC would only step in rare cases where the state is unwilling or unable to genuinely carryout the investigation or prosecution. As such, there is a dire need for all stakeholders, locally and internationally, to vigilantly work towards reinforcing domestic capacity to investigate and prosecute Rome Statute crimes.” added Mtambo.
Making a presentation titled the legal implications and importance of domesticating the Rome Statute, Mambulasa concurred with Mtambo that the way forward for Malawi was to domesticate the Rome Statute.
“With the status quo Malawi cannot prosecute serious crimes as enshrined in the Rome Statute in the absence of domestication. They are not part of our law. They are not part of our law. As such in cases such crimes happen, ICC would automatically assume jurisdiction to do so. To keep the ICC at bay domesticate the Rome Statute and allow our domestic courts prosecute such crimes bearing in mind that ICC is there, based on the complementarity principle, as a court of last resort” argued Mambulasa.
He added that by domesticating the Rome Statute Malawi would not only be fulfilling her international human rights obligations but also demonstrating its efforts towards fighting impunity for a better world.
CHRR Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator Makhumbo Munthali observed that the very fact that Malawi has over the years enjoyed some level of peace – free from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression – is no guarantee that the status quo shall remain in 50 or 100 years ahead.
“After all, our present and past has a plethora of nasty incidents of human rights violations which, despite not meeting the standard to be categorized as serious crimes of international concern, may act as an eye opener on a possibility of the country one day registering serious crimes of international concern.
“The July 20, 2011 saga during DPP era, the Kalonga Stambuli and Matafale saga during UDF era; the detention, cruel treatment and execution of critics during MCP era; the growing inter-tribal or ethnic hatred, nepotism during almost all regimes so far; and several other examples all provide the breeding ground for such occurrence [serious crimes], and there is hence the need to have a clear comprehensive legal framework that shall ably address such in the event of their occurrence, as well as acting as a deterrent to any potential perpetrator. It’s high time, Malawi seriously considered domesticating the Rome statute” added Munthali.
Malawi President Advisor on Non-governmental organizations Mavuto Bamusi commended CHRR and MLS for organizing the workshop which according to him provided the platform for debate on matters which attract controversy as is the case with ICC.
He added that the role of the NGOs was to provide the platform for such debate.
Said Bamusi:“There is a solid commitment from the government of Malawi towards the promotion of international criminal justice including the Rome statute which it signed and ratified in 1999 and 2002. The Mutharika administration will continue to promote human rights, and that it will continue to give the CSOs the challenge to check government and provide recommendations”.
Bamusi, formerly human rights activist, asked the stakeholders at the conference to also debate on why USA, Russia, China and Israel were not party to the Rome Statute, as these were some of the questions President Peter Mutharika needed more clarifications.
“It’s the President’s wish that these matters should be debated in an open manner. The President looks forward to recommendations which shall emanate from this meeting. Otherwise, there is political will from the Malawi government” concluded Mavuto Bamusi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :