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News Analysis: ICC deplores lack of state cooperation in pursuit of suspects

DAKAR, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Lack of cooperation by member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has hampered efforts to pursue criminal suspects, the Court's officials said on Tuesday during a conference held in Senegal to discuss the international justice system.

"The International Criminal Court is at the heart of contemporary international relations where the fight against impunity has become a necessity to pacify our societies in the face of organized and crossborder crimes," the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said.

However, she said, "the work of my office is extremely difficult. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where it is almost impossible to find the required results."

"Last year, we withdrew charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta because we did not get the required level of cooperation from the Kenyan authorities," she explained.

"Witnesses were equally threatened and intimidated, making it difficult for us to continue with the case because there is no effective international justice system without witnesses," she added.

According to Bensouda, this lack of cooperation by states is a major obstacle to the judicial process and equally a setback that discredits the judicial process.

ICC President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi said sometimes state cooperation comes in late, after the context has been complicated.

"If investigations and arrests are delayed, it becomes difficult to collect evidence, protect witnesses and reach the crime perpetrators so that they can be arrested and transferred to the court," she continued.

"States that have ratified the Rome Statute are under obligation to cooperate. We need their voluntary cooperation as well as the support of international organizations," the ICC president affirmed.

However, Madam de Gurmendi pointed out, "the Rome Treaty has limits because it cannot be applied to non-party states unless if the UN Security Council decides to initiate investigations."

Bensouda called for support of the member states in the arrest and transfer of suspects to the ICC so that justice can be rendered to thousands of victims.

She hailed efforts by some member states to reform their national judicial systems so that they can prosecute similar cases that could be handled at ICC.

In this regard, Bensouda mentioned Guinea which has initiated a judicial process against those who carried out the massacre on Sept. 28, 2009, that saw over 150 people killed in Conakry.

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