Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has said that the National Assembly is willing and ready to domesticate international treaties aimed at safeguarding human rights.
He made this known when he received the President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Chile Ebue Osuji, at the National Assembly on Thursday.
The Speaker, who raised concerns about the emergence and strengthening of far-right groups and the dangers inherent in the trend, highlighted the importance of the Court in keeping such tendencies at bay and preventing crimes against humanity from occurring.
“The difficulty is that so many national figures may not support the very ideals and philosophy behind the Court in the sense that a lot of people who have acquired this immunity and the impunity that we are talking about would not want to account to any international body; but with the accentuation of far right politics across the world, chances are that some of these crimes that jolted humanity’s conscience may be repeated. Except there are bodies like this that can step in at the right time to ensure that individuals who are accused of these heinous crimes against humanity are brought to book, then there will be no let in the accentuation of this kind of ideology.”
He also pledged Nigeria’s continued support for the International Criminal Court.
“You rightly pointed out that what we have in our national creed even though we’re struggling to live up to it as a nation is what the court seeks to promote; and that means that we should redouble our efforts in supporting the ideals upon which the international criminal court was founded.”
“We will continue to support the ideals upon which the court was founded, more so now that we have our own. By doing that, we will be living up to our national creed of ensuring that justice is done regardless of whatever happens.”
Speaking on the Rome Statute, the Speaker said that he agrees with the fundamental principles. He, however, added that the procedure governing the domestication of treaties grants the Executive and not the Legislature, the power to initiate the process.
“On the issue of the domestication of the Rome Statute, I personally believe in the fundamental principles and I’ve studied it myself, but there has been no communication as such because there are provisions in the Constitution dealing with the processes or procedure by which treaties can be domesticated locally; in most cases, it is not something that members of parliament can activate. It is normally at the level of the Executive that these treaties are forwarded to us for domestication and we have dealt with quite a number of them but unfortunately, this one has not been transmitted to the National Assembly.”
He then suggested that since efforts were being made to kickstart the process of domesticating the Kampala Convention, then perhaps the Rome Statute should also be included.
“In our engagement to the Executive, thankfully, the chairman house Committee on judiciary is here and he will work with his counterpart the chairman committee on justice to see what we can do about that, but we’ve been discussing the Kampala amendment with ICHR, they have cause to discuss it anytime they come visiting but that one is in the front burner but if we can put the two together and take it all at once, that would be very helpful.”
“We will do our best as a parliament that is responsive to ensure that not only are we securing the freedoms of our people nationally but as we compete in the global space, if we have issues, we should have a body that will be able to ensure that justice is done.”
Earlier, the President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Chile Ebue Osuji, commended Nigeria for remaining consistent in supporting the ICC and contributing to efforts geared at establishing an international community where peace and justice reign.
“Nigeria has always supported the ICC in trying to build an international community where peace and justice reign supreme. That is what the Court stands for and a key aspect of that is that when crimes that shock the conscience of humanity are committed – crimes like genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, now we also have the crime of aggression – when they are committed, they disturb international peace and security and it is important that human beings should not feel a sense of impunity when they engage in conduct of that nature. That is what the court stands for and that is what I represent.”
“I thought I’d come and express my appreciation for the support the government has given me and also the support that government has given the court in pursuit of that objective, that vision of the world.”