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The Wayamo Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation has commenced training of prosecutors to complement the International Criminal Court (ICC) in prosecuting terrorists and other international crimes.

 

The Director of the Foundation, Ms Bettina Ambach, told our correspondent that the training would reduce the number of cases being referred to the ICC.

Ambach said the training was organised in collaboration with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Africa Group for Justice and Accountability and other relevant organisations.

She added that the training, sponsored by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ford Foundation and Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland, would set standard for the prosecution of complex crimes in future.

“The training is the beginning of series of trainings to engage Nigerian prosecutors.

“One of the most important goals we have is to strengthen local judicial systems so they will be able to address serious and complex crimes domestically.

“We believe so much in the International Criminal Justice system, which also says that countries are responsible to deal with serious crimes themselves, which is a system of collaboration.’’

She said countries should be able to deal with their crimes domestically in collaboration with international organisations.

She added that “Nigeria is under preliminary examination and the crimes we are talking about are humanity and war crimes, and we have the challenge now to look into these potential crimes.

“We will talk about what international law provides and what Nigeria can offer.

“Thereafter, we will see how we can improve in preparation of cases, in writing charges, in looking into modes of liability which are at international level disposal.’’

The director said the Foundation would focus on most serious and complex crimes that were international, transnational and terrorism-related.

Also, Dapo Akande, a Professor of Public International Law at the University of Oxford,
UK, said that it was high time Nigerian prosecutors were adequately equipped to handle complex cases.

Akande, who is also a member of the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability, said the training would help federal prosecutors to properly attend to Boko Haram cases.

“The reason is that Nigeria is a member of the ICC.

“The way that the court system works is that ICC only prosecutes if domestic states have not actually carried out those prosecutions.

“It is important for Nigeria and Nigerian prosecutors to carry out those prosecutions locally in order to avoid the ICC having to investigate and carry out prosecutions of events that occurred in Nigeria.’’

He said though Nigeria was doing its best with regards to prosecuting terrorism-related cases like Boko Haram cases, “I think Nigeria is just starting.

“There has been a bit of backlog and the objective is to try to get that moving and this is actually in the interest of victims.

“As we all know, terrible crimes and atrocities have happened to Nigerians and it is in the interest of those Nigerian victims to see that people are actually held accountable.

“This is with the objective of hopefully deterring others from committing such crimes and meting out punishment on culprits.’’

On allegations that the ICC focused more on investigating cases from African countries, the don said there had been tension between African states and the ICC in that regard.

According to him, it has been a difficult time for the ICC because three African countries have withdrawn from the Court in recent times.

He, however, said most cases being investigated by ICC were at the request of African countries, adding that “it is not like the ICC just waded into cases from African countries.’’

He added that the ICC had broadened its scope and had announced investigations into the situation in the war between Russia and Georgia.

The ICC had also started investigations into the situation in Iraq, he said, noting, however, that
“it is true that it is mainly African countries but the situation is improving.’’

NAN

Last modified on Friday, 09 December 2016
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