Professor Akua Kuenyehia, Judge of the Appeals Division at the International Criminal Court (ICC), on Tuesday said the principle of rule of law must be the bedrock of all democratic governance systems to ensure criminal accountability.
According to her, adherence to the rule of law would promote social order, ensures transparency and guaranteed democratic development.
Prof Kuenyehia was speaking at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) maiden law week celebration on the theme: “Championing the Rule of Law-The Bedrock of Constitutionalism and Democratic Governance”, in Accra.
She said one of the primary objectives of the ICC is to secure universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals throughout the world.
She noted that ICC was needed to achieve justice for all and that the court has helped to prosecute and punish persons responsible for crimes such as genocide.
Prof Kuenyehia said the International Court of Justice at The Hague handled only cases between States, not individuals and said without an international criminal court for dealing with individual responsibility as an enforcement mechanism, acts of genocide and violations of human rights would have gone unpunished.
She said in the last 50 years, there have been many instances of crimes against humanity and war crimes for which no individual have been held accountable.
Prof Kuenyehia noted that if the ICC in its first 10 years had opened investigations in six countries; the Central African Republic, Darfur, Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Libya.
On Libya, she said, the investigation was initiated by the UN Security Council and is the first investigation to be backed by the United States.
Prof Kuenyehia said the court had no police and prison force but relied on the co-operation among member states for investigation and arrest.
She encouraged member states to operate within the confines of rule of law in ensuring justice for all, peaceful existence and an end to conflict.
Prof. Samuel O. Gyandoh, Former Dean of Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, Legon, said the rule of law is a pivotal moral foundation of Ghana’s current constitutional democracy and needed to be nurtured with circumspection.
According to him, without such commitment to the core values enshrined in the concept of rule of law, it would be difficult to maintain a constitutional democracy.
He said constitutional democracy is predicated on moral foundations which include Freedom, Justice, Probity and Accountability, the principle that all powers of government spring from the will of the people- universal adult suffrage.
Prof Gyandoh said the rule of law means the effective protection of individual rights and equal treatment meted out by government and all its agencies within civil society.
He noted that the concept required that government shall operate within the rule of law and not according to the arbitrary or capricious will of rulers.
Prof Gyandoh noted that rule of law demanded that positive laws of a state must have a certain minimum content of public morality and facilitate the creation of social, economic and cultural conditions.
He noted that without that, human dignity of the individual cannot be attained adding, the rule of law eschews all situations of lawlessness, either on the part of those who govern or those who are governed.