Tuesday, August 22, 2017

PoS talks to focus on International Criminal Court co-operation

REPRESENTATIVES from State agencies as well as relevant organisations in the Caribbean region have gathered in Port of Spain for what is billed as a two-day high-level seminar aimed at fostering co-operation among these countries and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Opening this morning at the Hyatt Regency, the seminar will hear remarks from President Anthony Carmona; Herman von Hebel, registrar of the ICC; and Trinidad and Tobago jurist Geoffrey Henderson, who has been a member of the ICC's panel of judges since February 2014.

Henderson replaced Carmona, who had been appointed to a place on the ICC bench but subsequently declined, after accepting the offer in 2013, to serve as the country's head of State.

Henderson is a former high court judge and before that T&T's director of public prosecutions.

In an interview with the Express yesterday, as last-minute arrangements were in progress for this morning's opening ceremony, he said the idea was to create a forum for “sensitisation and building awareness, that the court can only act through its member states”.

This reality, said Henderson, meant the ICC needed the co-operation of those states party to the Rome Statute of 1990, which established it, when it came to investigations and the sharing of information on issues which were before it.

He said the seminar would seek “to identify areas in which the court can assist in helping to build capacity among member states, and to provide assistance”.

Also, he said, it represented an opportunity to afford those states which have already made such commitments to assist others which have not.

“So it is also about sharing experience,” he said.

While serving as prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, between 1986 and 1991, the late ANR Robinson worked aggressively across international jurisdictions drumming up support for the idea of the ICC.

The court was established in July 1998, after the requirement had been arrived at for 120 countries to sign on to the Rome Statute, which was adopted in 1990.

Trinidad and Tobago became the third country in the world to become party to the statute, largely on account of the impressive lobbying conducted by Robinson, in his campaign for its establishment.

Former attorney general Glenda Morean signed on to the ICC on this country's behalf, during her term in that office.

Henderson said yesterday this regional seminar was one of several being conducted by the court, in all regions of the world.

In this case, he said, it was committed to helping ensure that “as a region, we are as best placed as possible to assist the court when requests are made”.

The court would require assistance from individual countries, for police officers to conduct investigations, for the sharing of information, for the tracing and freezing of assets where necessary, and for facilitating the availability of witnesses who may wish to testify against alleged offenders.