ICC head visits SA

President of International Criminal Court, Sang-Hyuen Song, and other officials are touring SA.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and the International Criminal Court’s judge Sang-Hyen Song. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - President of International Criminal Court (ICC) Sang-Hyuen Song took part in a debate on transitional justice at Wits University in Johannesburg last night along with Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

Moseneke says while the ICC has placed victim reparations at the center of its rationale, South African courts are meant to foster an environment for social justice to take place.

The ICC delegation includes the court's senior prosecutor as well as other officials from ICC, who will be touring the rest of the country throughout the week.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng says the ICC has difficulties in prosecuting African leaders and lessons to be learnt from South Africa's TRC are some of the pertinent issues he will discuss with the institution's president visiting the country.

"He and I reflected on the crucial role that it played in ensuring that the atrocities that have beset the African continent over the years are properly dealt with."

The chief justice says they also discussed challenges the court has faced in dealing with human rights violations in South Africa.

"We reflected on the lessons to be drawn from the challenges that the ICC has had to go through in its attempt to deal with human rights violations that have taken place in this country."

'TRC INEFFECTIVE '

South Africa's foremost legal professionals say reparations for victims of conflict and oppression should form the cornerstone of any process to find closure.

Director at the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation Delphine Serumaga says their research has shown that many South Africans believe the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was in fact ineffective.

"There are no effective reparation programmes, for example in South Africa at the moment for the victims of apartheid."

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza headed the investigations arm of that commission and says after its report was published - many of the recommended prosecutions failed to materialise.

"There are a number of people who are walking the streets of South Africa who committed heinous crimes in relations to which evidence was available. There were 43 files of which we could not deal with."

The panelist has unanimously agreed that victims of mass violence need to be placed at the center of the peace processes.

At the same time, the ICC president says the institution has shifted the focus of international justice to be centered on victims' reparations and bringing about an end to impunity.