The delegation included Mr. Alfred Tuah Yeboah, Deputy Attorney-General & Deputy Minister for Justice, Mrs. Helen A.A. Ziwu, the Solicitor-General and Mrs. Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Justice Ministers’ Conference which took place at Lancaster House in London saw several Justice Ministers and Attorney-Generals from over 43 countries with Ghana’s Attorney-General & Minister for Justice representing the entire African continent as the only African country present at the high-level Conference.
The Conference which was convened under the auspices of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Netherlands focused on supporting the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigations into the Russian-led war in Ukraine.
The Conference of Justice Ministers was aimed at affording State 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.
The following distinguished persons gave addresses at the Conference; Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor; 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.
Speaking at the Conference, Godfred Yeboah Dame stressed that owing to Ghana’s track record as a firm adherent to human rights, Ghana 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 accordingly justifying Ghana 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 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.
He noted further that Ghana is currently in negotiations with the ICC to sign a relocation agreement which would allow the country to provide the necessary support to victims and witnesses in the manner stated already.
Ghana’s Attorney-General & Minister for Justice, Mr. Godfred Dame, as part of the visit to the UK also had series of other bilateral and trilateral meetings including meetings with the UK Attorney-General and the Ukrainian Prosecutor General; the Lord Chief Justice of the United Kingdom at the Royal Courts of Justice; Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon; the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice of the United Kingdom amongst others.