At the invitation of the UK government, on Monday, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, led a high-level delegation from Ghana to London to attend the Justice Ministers’ Conference.
The Conference which took place at Lancaster House was chaired by the UK Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab.
It involved a meeting of Justice Ministers from European countries, and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), with Ghana’s AG being the only Minister from the African continent invited to attend and participate.
The delegation from Ghana included Alfred Tuah Yeboah, Deputy Attorney-General, Helen A. A. Ziwu, the Solicitor-General and Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Conference which was convened under the auspices of the UK and Netherlands governments focused on supporting the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigations into the Russian-led war in Ukraine.
The Conference aimed at delivering justice to victims of aggression and affording the State to the ICC parties the opportunity to provide the requisite support to the ICC to facilitate its investigation into the situation in Iraq.
The Conference focused on areas including support for witnesses; operationalizing ICC filed presence in Ukraine; support for effective use of digital evidence in trials before the Court; support in terms of collection of forensic evidence and psychological support for victims of sex and gender-based violent crimes and crimes against children.
Dominic Raab, Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice; Denys Maliuska, the Minister for Justice of Ukraine; Andriy Kostin, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and Karim Khan, the Prosecutor of the ICC addressed the conference.
Speaking at the Conference, Mr Yeboah Dame stressed that owing to Ghana’s track record as a firm adherent to human rights, it had no difficulty supporting the work of the ICC, especially relating to the investigation of war crimes committed in Ukraine.
With Ghana being one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Rome Statutes as far back as 1999, the AG affirmed Ghana’s recognition and support for the work of the ICC in line with her cherished tradition and culture in the protection of international human rights and the work of international courts set up with the object of consolidating such values.
Mr Dame, as part of his remarks at the Conference, noted that in January 2017, when a number of member states of the African Union voted to pass a non-binding resolution for a mass withdrawal from the ICC, Ghana was not one of those nations and accordingly, Ghana was willing to support the taking of measures to protect global peace and security.
On Ghana’s position on the situation in Ukraine, Mr Dame highlighted that Ghana has unequivocally and consistently stressed that Russia’s actions in Ukraine constitute an unjustified violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
He accordingly justified Ghana’s voting in favour of a UN Resolution on 23rd February 2023 which demanded the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian military forces from the territory of Ukraine and called for a cessation of hostilities.
He noted that Ghana is of the fervent belief that a pathway to the resolution of the war is through honest and sincere dialogue between the warring parties.
However, the course of recent events suggests that a peaceful resolution through dialogue will be illusional.
Ghana’s Attorney-General, Mr Dame, highlighted that the ICC has a responsibility to identify suspects, gather evidence and prosecute perpetrators.
He stated that Ghana supports the investigative work of the Prosecutor in the situation in Ukraine in line with its accountability mandate to ensure that individuals found culpable of egregious crimes in violation of the Rome Statutes are investigated and brought to book under international law.
On the role Ghana could play in supporting the ICC, Mr Dame said that the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice in Ghana has recently moved to fill a lacuna in Ghana’s laws by preparing an International Criminal Court Bill.
This is to enable courts in Ghana to try offences recognized under the Rome Statute and to provide a legal framework within which the ICC can prosecute cases in circumstances where the Ghanaian courts are unable to do so.
Currently, the said Bill is undergoing stakeholder consultations as part of the processes for its enactment and will soon be laid before Parliament.
He also noted that in view of the peculiar nature of investigations anticipated to be conducted in the Ukraine situation, there will be the need to provide witnesses with adequate protective and security measures and assist them in obtaining medical, psychological and other appropriate assistance.
Thus, Mr. Dame noted that the repertoire of services offered by the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service places it in a position to contribute effectively to the work of the ICC.
He explained that the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit is the agency within the Ghana Police Service specifically trained to offer support for victims.
He noted that its output makes it the best of such units within the Police Service of any African nation and that personnel of the Unit have the requisite training to assist the ICC within the countries of victims if needed.
He also stated that Ghana can offer relocation assistance to the ICC for victims and witnesses. He said that Ghana’s track record as a nation speaks to an established capacity to provide accommodation in-state, identity protection and a home for refugees.
The Justice Ministers’ Conference was preceded by a trilateral meeting between the UK Attorney-General, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General and Ghana’s Attorney-General.
On Tuesday, Mr Dame will hold a series of bilateral meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Dominic Raab and the Lord Chief Justice of the United Kingdom at the Royal Courts of Justice and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, amongst others.
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