More than 65 civil society organizations (CSOs) working on human rights in Ghana have urged the government to pass the International Criminal Court Bill 2016 into law to give effect to the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ghana ratified the Rome Statute in 1999, the treaty that established the ICC, in the Hague, Netherlands, and drafted the Ghana International Criminal Court Bill in 2016 but is yet to pass the Bill into law to domesticate the Rome Statute, 19 years after ratifying it.
The civil society groups made the call in a communiqué they issued after attending a 3-day CSOs strategic workshop in Accra to draw up an implementation plan and an action strategy for the implementation of the recommendations the UN Human Rights Council made to Ghana during the third review of Ghana’s human rights record under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism in November 2017.
During the third UPR review in 2017, Latvia and Estonia recommended to Ghana, which Ghana accepted, to domesticate the Rome Statute. This followed similar recommendations made to Ghana in 2012 when Ghana’s human rights record came up for review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Research and education think tank, Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) had also urged the Akufo-Addo administration to prioritize the passage of the International Criminal Court Bill after filing a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2017 prior to Ghana’s appearance at the Human Rights Council in November 2017.
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In a statement, ACILA executive director, Mr. William Nyarko had explained when passed into law, Ghana’s ICC law will provide the legal framework for the courts in Ghana to prosecute persons who commit crimes tried by the ICC as well as enable the ICC to prosecute cases that Ghanaian courts are unable to prosecute.
The call by the CSOs is the latest push by CSOs advocating passage of the ICC Bill. The communiqué, which was signed by Mr. Jonathan Osei Owusu, Convener of UPR CSOs in Ghana and Executive Director of the POS Foundation, also called on government to set up an Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) in order to ensure professionalism in the police service; improve access to justice; abolish the death penalty; introduce an alternative sentencing Policy [Non-Custodial Sentencing Law] while improving detention conditions and pass the Right To Information (RTI) Bill into law and implement it, among other things. Below is the full statement by the CSOs.