Political Federation East Africa Community (EAC) deputy secretary-general Beatrice Kiraso has blamed African governments for failing to utilise the Rome Statute, which provides an opportunity for state parties to address their problems using local remedies.
Speaking at an EAC Forum for Chief Justices meeting in Dar es Salaam on Monday, Kiraso said African governments had been inconsistent with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“It is unfathomable that, while we want to determine our own course, we don’t take this determination to the required level,” she said.
She noted that the principle of complimentarity under the Rome Statute provided an opportunity for the state parties to address their problems using local remedies but they had never utilised such an opportunity.
According to her, ICC should be the court of the last resort not the court of first instance especially for EAC partner states, which are establishing a political federation.
She said it was amazing that despite such misgivings “we have not allowed our judicial mechanisms to have jurisdiction over issues of impurity and human rights.”
Kiraso further said the experience of the ICC should not be ignored and there was a need to strengthen regional judicial mechanisms.
The judiciary is in the right position to obligate the partner states not only to promulgate just laws in conformity with human rights standards but also guarantee social justice, prevention of conflicts, political stability and peaceful co-existence as stipulated in the Treaty as fundamental and operational principles.
For his part, Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman said the theme of the meeting ‘Judicial Reform’ was timely as East Africa judiciaries embarked on various reforms to enhance the dispensation of justice - criminal, civil, commercial, juvenile and labour.
He said judicial reforms needed to be comprehensive and holistic rather than compartmentalised and fragmented.
“It must be incorporating reforms in and by other law enforcement agencies such as the police, prisons, prosecution and the bar to realise workable outcome and not to narrowly construe it,” he said.
CJ Othman, however, said electoral litigations in the High Court would be concluded by May 4, this year. The CJ revealed that he said election cases had been given time to be concluded thus if all things went well they would be concluded on May, 4 this year.
CJ Chande said the parliamentary elections conducted in 2010 generated 44 elections petitions whereby some cases were withdrawn, others were concluded and so far there were eight pending cases at the High Court, which would be concluded soon.
The CJ mentioned some of the pending cases as those involving the constituencies of Ubungo, Segerea, Tabora and Singida.