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Shanghala defends ICC withdrawal

ATTORNEY general Sacky Shanghala last week defended government's decision to pull out of the International Criminal Court, saying the country's domestic remedies are efficient.
Reacting to DTA president McHenry Venaani's statement that the withdrawal could spell doom for the country, Shanghala said a person should only be prosecuted if there was justified doubt, adding that government would take the same route out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) it took when it joined the organisation – by a decision of parliament.

Venaani on Wednesday warned during a press conference against government's plan to pull out of the ICC, saying joining states like Gambia and Burundi in leaving the international court is “laughable”, and paints the nation in a very disgraceful light.

He stated that although he agrees with the perception that the institution is biased against African nations, he recommends that government stays in the ICC and pushes for reforms from within, instead of withdrawing altogether. “The DTA believes Namibia should rather strongly and robustly pursue reforms within the ICC, and not take action that could potentially put Namibia onto the path of becoming a banana republic,” Venaani said.

Based on information on the ICC website, nine out of the 10 investigations by the ICC targeted African countries. The organisation is based in The Hague, Netherlands, and was established in 2002 to prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Another reason the DTA said it objected against the withdrawal is based on articles 31(2) and 31(3) of the Constitution, which grants acting and former presidents legal immunity for all of their actions during their time in office.

Without an international court, there will be no local recourse or remedy for a president's actions, according to the DTA.

This is also due to the lack of an African alternative court, the DTA said, adding that: “The Southern African Development Community tribunal can effectively already be discarded as a failed experiment.” Meanwhile, Venaani also commented on remarks allegedly made by President Hage Geingob that the Constitution was “just a piece of paper”.

He called the remark a “historic blunder”, and stressed the bad timing shortly before the Invest in Namibia Conference on 8 and 9 November. He said such a statement, in combination with the intention to withdraw from the ICC, might scare away foreign investors prior to a hopefully “very fruitful investment conference”.

Venaani also said the President would discredit his own legitimacy by belittling the Constitution, and be a mere “paper President”.

Shanghala said the President was misquoted in the media, and that the statement was taken out of context by the DTA.

He explained that proof that the state highly regards the Constitution includes the decision to translate the Constitution into Braille (the written language for the blind) and other vernacular languages. “This is done to ensure that people can understand the document, which is there to protect everybody,” he added.


  • Title: Shanghala defends ICC withdrawal
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  • Date: 4:38 AM
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