"Strengthening the autonomy and effectiveness of Justice and Democracy as the foundation of world peace" - Dr. William Soto Santiago
My fraternal greetings to all the honorable judges, magistrates, prosecutors, attorneys, lawyers, law writers, and the general public.
Today we are initiating the Justice and Democracy Session in the framework of the Integrative Peace Summit, CUMIPAZ 2016 Paraguay, in this warm and welcoming city of Asuncion, Paraguay.
Today's lectures and contributions will address the need, convenience, advantages and disadvantages of updating and typifying genocide, ethnocide, the democratization of the UN and the rationalization of the right of veto; And of course, the strengthening of the International Criminal Court, whose judges Morrison and Mbe-Mindua honor us with their presence today.
Welcome to the Justice and Democracy Session.
"Strengthening the autonomy and effectiveness of Justice and Democracy as the foundation of world peace"
An initial premise of any program of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, and in general, in any proposed reform in the field of Justice for Peace, is the priority in the prevention of genocidal conduct, in order to avoid its repression. And, the foundation of the prevention of international crimes, and of any attack against dignity and against Human Rights, is education.
Education in values based on the recognition of human dignity and respect for the other is the main non-violent tool to prevent genocidal barbarism.
If the States prevent genocidal barbarism and, in general, any violation of human rights, peace is guaranteed. Peace is the presupposition of happiness. There can be no happiness without peace, and peace has a foundation, which is justice; and justice is built from the truth. The truth and the right to memory within the framework of respect for human dignity, is the input of justice. A justice for peace must be grounded in truth and respect for human dignity, as well as recognition of the rights of victims. An autonomous and independent restorative justice brings peace.
According to the preamble to the Rome Statute: "The most serious crimes of major importance for the international community as a whole should not be left unpunished and ... to that end, action must be taken at the national level and intensified international cooperation to ensure that they are effectively subject to justice ‘and’ it is the duty of every State to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes."
For that reason, and in compliance with the dictates of the UN, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace has been working hard to strengthen the effectiveness and autonomy of universal justice as well as that of the different States.
The genocides committed in the twentieth century and those in the 21st century in today's international news, occur before the silence and indifference of States, international authorities and political leaders.
Hundreds of people die every day as migrants, while in the Middle East thousands more are kidnapped and killed by extremist religious groups that spread terror scenes before the lack of solidarity in the world. Millions of Christians, Druze, Yazidis, women, children and men belonging to discriminated minority groups are being tortured and exterminated by Hindu extremist groups and jihadists, who call them "infidels" for not sharing the official religion and forcing them to convert to Islam or to leave the territory under the threat of being beheaded or to see their women and daughters become sex slaves.
Another of the many warning signs of the genocidal atrocity is sexual violence against women in Darfur, who call for justice without a response; also the recruitment of minors by guerrillas operating in northern Uganda, such as the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), which has kidnapped and recruited more than 20,000 children in recent years.
Trafficking of persons, a criminal offense known as "21st century slavery", is not easily prosecuted because of the limitations of the judicial branch in providing evidence in different countries. Women from the Philippines and Thailand go to Japan, one of the main centers for trafficking of women. According to UNICEF, there are 60,000 child prostitutes in the Philippines.
Christians and those who practice Falun Gong have also been subjected to discrimination, detention and torture in China for countering communist ideology.
Christians, Yazidis, Druze and Shiite Muslims have been sentenced to death in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State extremist group or ISIS. According to estimates by observers, every five minutes a Christian is killed simply for professing what others consider "a pagan religion." A year, there are more than a hundred thousand victims.
It is necessary to neutralize these and many other warning signals. The indifference and inaction of the world are paid with thousands of innocent lives that are sacrificed. At the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, we are promoting the Justice for Peace Program, which we have been working on for several years and has four main objectives:
1. The protection of other human groups excluded from the definition of the crime of genocide, such as the political groups; and the widening of genocidal behaviors, such as forced pregnancy, forcible transfer of adults and ethnocide, poorly called ethnic cleansing or cultural absorption. To this end, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and the Rome Statute, which was adopted in 1998 and put into force on 1 July, 2002, should be revised with a view to its amendment.
Human groups protected by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as well as the Rome Statute, are national, ethnic, racial and religious. The choice of just four of the many human groups whose extermination can be tried under the title of genocide violates the principle of equality and discriminates against other collectivities such as cultural, political, economic or sexual groups, among others. A universal and inclusive formula for the criminalization of genocide must be the protection of every human group with identity and permanence.
In any case, there are no valid reasons to discriminate against the political groups. Politicide should be considered a form of genocide, as it is an attempt against a political group, and as such, some countries such as Colombia and Costa Rica, have typified this in their Criminal Codes.
Another conduct that must be sanctioned by the international community is the serious attack on the identity, culture and membership of certain human groups, particularly ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. It is necessary to typify cultural genocide or ethnocide, since humanity cannot ignore the marginalization, repression, exclusion and death of the cultural diversity of Aboriginal and Afro-descendant peoples, so that its members survive as individuals but without identity.
The revision and amendment of the Rome Statute also points to the characterization of ecocide as an international crime against peace. Knowledge, investigation and punishment of such serious attacks on ecosystems and natural reserves should be the responsibility of the International Criminal Court in cases where States are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute them.
2. The democratization of the UN.
The Justice for Peace project also includes a proposal to reform the internal workings of the United Nations so that, when it comes to measures taken by the UN to prevent, neutralize or sanction genocide, none of the five Permanent member countries of the Security Council may exercise the right of veto.
And if within the UN it is decided not to eliminate the right of veto when it comes to measures to combat genocide, at least to democratize its use; That is, that the veto be adopted by the majority of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council or at least by a plural number of them. Because it is a democratic organization, one country cannot veto the decisions taken by the majority of United Nations representatives. This faculty denaturalizes the democratic character of the UN and its revision is necessary.
Likewise, the project Justice for Peace promotes the expansion of permanent members of the UN Security Council; That at least one of the States of Latin America and the Caribbean, another of Africa, another of Europe and another of Asia, be part of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
3. Strengthening the autonomy and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court.
The grave crimes and multiple atrocities committed after the Second World War make it imperative to strengthen the independence, autonomy, and effectiveness of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Article 16 of the Rome Statute confers on the UN Security Council the special power to request the International Criminal Court to suspend an investigation or prosecution.
This provision should be reviewed and modulated, as it may constitute an attack against the autonomy and independence of the International Criminal Court by making it subject to an imperative requirement and mandatory compliance to suspend the investigation or trial for international crimes, regardless of the victim’s fates. Apart from the reasons of convenience that can be adduced, the UN Security Council is a political body and the ICC is a judicial body whose operation must be governed by democratic parameters.
In order for the International Criminal Court to be aware of the crimes within its competence, in a timely manner, I have been insisting on the need to create the Regional Prosecutor's offices of the International Criminal Court, so as to ensure the immediate collection of evidence and a timely investigation of international crimes.
For those cases where the person involved in an international crime is a head of state or government, it is necessary to establish a due process, with clear rules, to administer justice by the International Criminal Court and thus obtain the commitment and effective collaboration of the international community.
4. In order to properly investigate, prosecute, and punish international crimes in all parts of the world, I stress the call for countries that have not yet ratified the Genocide Convention and the Rome Statute to be linked to the commitment to criminalize genocide and the acceptance of universal justice.
This Peace Integration Summit, CUMIPAZ 2016 Paraguay, is an auspicious scenario to call on countries that have not yet ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as well as the Rome Statute, so that assume that international commitment, and in addition, to typify that conduct known as the capital crime; and to the United Nations, my call for the revision and amendment of the Convention and the Rome Statute.
Thank you very much.