Responding to questions about the Guyana Government’s refusal to prosecute that country’s former president, Bharatt Jagdeo, for crimes against humanity, Fadi El Abdallah advised that “anyone who has information about crimes against humanity can submit such information to the International Criminal Court (ICC).” Mr Abdallah is the spokesperson for the ICC, based in The Hague in the Netherlands.
Abdallah briefed members of the international press at the United Nations’ (UN) headquarters in New York recently about the Court’s on-going trials. The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Guyana signed the Rome Statute – which governs the ICC – on December 28, 2000. The country deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute on September 24, 2004. Guyana is subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
Hundreds of Guyanese citizens were killed and/or disappeared during the regime of Guyana’s ex-president, Bharrat Jagdeo; an “egregious violation of human rights and international law,” according to secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in a message to the high-level meeting commemorating the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which was held earlier this year at the UN
headquarters in New York.
According to the Rome Statute, “Enforced disappearance of persons” ‘means the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.’
Starting in 1999, and, continuing until 2008, Guyanese citizens experienced an unprecedented reign of terror at the hands of the Bharrat Jagdeo regime. During that period, hundreds of African Guyanese citizens were murdered; many under the colour of law.
According to Fadi El Abdallah, states can grant the ICC “retroactive authority” to prosecute malefactors responsible for crimes against humanity. In other words, the Guyana government, today, can instruct the ICC to investigate and prosecute, Bharrat Jagdeo and his cohorts for the crimes of kidnapping, torture and murder, given the fact that the Guyanese courts appear incapable of delivering justice to its citizens.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is aware of Jagdeo’s crimes. The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is aware of Jagdeo’s crimes. The Guyana government refuses to cooperate with both organizations.
Now, the United Nations secretary general is aware of Guyana’s recalcitrance. Asked to comment on the Guyana government’s non-cooperation, the secretary general’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric de la Riviere, underscored that “it’s incumbent of all member states to co-operate with U.N. mechanisms.” Guyana, take heed!