By Kebba Secka
‘Trust Africa’ in collaboration with the Netherlands Embassy in Senegal, on Monday November 12th began a week long training for journalists from Anglophone countries in Africa, on Transitional Justice and International Law. The training is the second of its kind initiated by ‘Trust Africa’, following the successful one held in Dakar, Senegal in 2017.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a televised video message, expressed gratitude to the organisers, and described the event as an important development in media relations and understanding of Transitional and International Criminal Justice procedures.
“The legitimacy of the ICC as an instrument for International Justice, is derived from its founding treaty, the Rome Statute and the mandate given to the institution by its drafters and the 123 State parties including 33 African countries that have signed it,” said ICC Prosecutor.
Describing the importance of journalism towards disseminating information on the work of the ICC, Prosecutor Bensuda said when the work of the ICC is misunderstood or its information erroneously disseminated, the image of the Court is unduly tarnished, and it’s capacity to fight against impunity, weakened. Prosecutor Bensouda continued that in recent years, there has been significant discussion concerning the relationship between the Courts and African States on issues of legitimacy, impunity, selectivity, fairness and accountability; that these ruminations are of great consequences and demonstrated the Continent’s commitment and interest in such important matters.
On his part, the Ambassador of the Netherlands based in Dakar, Senegal, commended the excellent collaboration between ‘Trust Africa’ and the Netherlands Embassy in Dakar. He equally thanked the Government of the Gambia for taking the bold responsibility to reinstate it’s position on the Rome Statute. He reiterated the importance of journalism in our society adding that building the capacity of journalists on Transitional Justice and International Law, cannot be overemphasized. He called on participants to make the best use of the training and seek clarification from ICC officials on doubting issues regarding their work.
Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakr Tambedou, thanked the organisers for choosing his country for such a noble course. He described the media as the fourth estate of a nation adding that it’s primary function, is to hold Government and other institutions accountable. “The media has a big role both during and after conflict,” asserted Tambedou. Dilating on International Criminal and Transitional Justice, Minister Tambedou said: “The media still has a big role to play not only in disseminating information, but changing the narratives and perceptions of society.” He added that good journalism practices will be a shaper of public opinion on important facts bothering them. He hoped that the training will foster cooperation between the media and the institutions they are to hold accountable.
While declaring the training open, he urged participants to utilize the opportunity in the most positive way.