By John Masuku
Harare, December 1, 2013- A judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Justice Julia Sebutinde says Africa is responsible for all the continent’s cases referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague against dictators and alleged perpetrators of violence and she did not understand the outcries and accusations against Western countries amidst calls for a pullout from the ICC.
“When you open floodgates of violence you must be prepared to face the consequences” said Justice Sebutinde on Friday at a conference dubbed “The Hague: legal capital of the world” organised by the Royal Netherlands embassy in Zimbabwe to discuss how international laws can be effectively domesticated into statutes of different countries. Zimbabwe is not yet a member of both the ICJ and ICC. It also has not yet ratified the international convention against torture.
“The African media should carry out its own investigations and empower people by giving everyone both sides of the coin. The continent should field and rely on its own lawyers and not hire Westerners who they end up blaming. But I don’t think pulling out will bring any solution,” added Sebutinde a Ugandan national. She advised that Africa should insist on its own quotas and use the African Union (AU) in order to bring change from within the international bodies.
Speaking at the same conference Justice Moses Chinhengo a former High Court judge in Zimbabwe and judge of the Botswana High Court said “Zimbabwe is a little Netherlands with regard to our new constitution which in Section 12 clearly states the upholding of national interest, international law, enjoyment of co-existence and the need to solve international disputes through peaceful means.”
Justice Chinhengo, who was part of the constitution drafters said international customary law is part of the law of Zimbabwe unless it is inconsistent with the supreme law of the land. He stated that judges are now explicitly compelled to keep abreast with both domestic and international law.
In her address, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Virginia Mabiza said the government has set up an inter ministerial committee on human rights which has prepared a number of instruments. However, the need for ratification of international treaties has increased in the light of globalisation and terrorist threats. Mabiza, in a speech read on her behalf by Mabel Msika a director of policy and research in her ministry said staff promotions, transfers and involvement of different ministries often affected capacity and continuity, resulting in lack of progress.