The recent revelation of a memo from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, expressing a desire for a meeting with President Bio during the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York has generated a whirlwind of controversy. While speculation is a natural tendency in such situations, it is essential to address these claims with rationality and context, rather than jumping to conclusions based on unfounded assumptions.
The prevailing assertion among some members of the opposition, that the ICC prosecutor’s meeting with President Bio is indicative of an impending investigation against him and his government, lacks a substantive foundation. It is important to emphasize that such assumptions run counter to the ICC’s established practices and procedures. The ICC does not require a personal meeting with a head of state to declare a country as a situation in which it will initiate investigations. The Rome Statute, the founding document of the ICC, provides a clear framework for the commencement of investigations, and this process does not necessitate a face-to-face interaction between the prosecutor and a national leader.
It is crucial to maintain a rational perspective on the situation. The ICC, as an impartial international judicial body, is duty-bound to adhere to established protocols and principles in its investigations. To assert that a mere meeting indicates an imminent investigation undermines the professionalism and integrity of the ICC, which is mandated to operate independently and transparently.
Past practices of the ICC further debunk the notion of a correlation between a meeting and impending investigations. The ICC follows a careful and well-defined procedure when determining whether to launch investigations. The Office of the Prosecutor conducts preliminary examinations to assess the credibility and gravity of potential crimes, which is a meticulous process that involves rigorous analysis of available evidence. This process is not influenced by personal meetings but rather by the legal criteria outlined in the Rome Statute.
Drawing parallels with the ICC’s past engagements is essential in this context. The ICC has conducted investigations and prosecutions in situations around the world without the requirement of in-person meetings with leaders of the respective nations involved. The court’s commitment to adhering to the Rome Statute’s provisions and its consistent application of due process underscores its commitment to impartiality and the rule of law.
It is prudent to let the ICC perform its duties within the bounds of established international legal norms. Jumping to conclusions and fueling baseless claims can be counterproductive and detrimental to the efforts of the international community to ensure accountability for grave crimes. President Bio should be allowed to engage in diplomatic dialogues without unnecessary speculations that may lead to unnecessary tensions.