The International Criminal Court (ICC) says it is yet to receive a letter some civil society organisations (CSOs) purportedly wrote to demand a probe into allegations of crimes against humanity that some politicians and human rights activists committed.
In an interview on the sidelines of a media workshop for journalists from Anglophone countries on operations of ICC and International Criminal Law underway in Accra, Ghana, ICC international cooperation adviser Dahirou Sant-Anna said they have no knowledge about such a letter from Malawi.
He said: “Personally, I am not aware of any such communication as you may understand that ICC receives hundreds of communications from all parts of the world on alleged violations of or abuses of international crimes which we have to carefully look into before any decision is made.”
Soon after a series of post-election demonstrations in July, a CSO led by Fryson Chonzi and Bright Kampaundi claimed to have written the ICC to investigate lead organisers of the protests Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) as well as politicians Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Saulos Chilima of UTM Party.
The CSO accused the leaders of perpetrating violence and looting, among others, which put innocent people’s lives at stake.
Article 51 of the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is said to be limited to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole in accordance with the Rome Statute within which crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and crime of aggression falls.
In a separate interview yesterday, Trapence wondered why some CSOs could report them to the ICC, saying their demonstrations have been peaceful and legally allowed.
HRDC has been holding a series of demonstrations to push Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly mismanaging the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
But Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, has refused to resign.
Currently, the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court with a panel of five judges is hearing a petition filed by Chilima and Chakwera demanding nullification of the presidential election results purportedly because of irregularities, especially in the results management system.
The ICC is based in Hague, the Netherlands and has close to 122 State party members out of which 32, including Malawi, are from Africa.
Article 7 of the Rome Statute says crimes against humanity mean any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) Murder; (b) Extermination; (c) Enslavement; (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population; (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; (f) Torture; (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.