Sunday, March 18, 2018

African court lady justice picked to join ICC team

Farewell luncheon for Lady Justice Solomy Bossa

Farewell luncheon for Lady Justice Solomy Bossa at the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) in Arusha recently. She worked at the Arusha-based judicial organ of the African Union before she was elected as Judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands. PHOTO|ZEPHANIA UBWANI 

By Zephania Ubwani @ubwanizg3

Arusha. It is exactly 37 years since Lady Justice Solomy Bossa tied the knot in her home village in Uganda and now blessed with four children.

But it was only three weeks ago she felt like a bride although not expecting to re-invent the wheel.

That was during an emotional farewell to her colleagues at the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) on March 1st.

She had been elected a judge of the Hague-based international Criminal Court (ICC), a no mean feat for the female lawyer who had dedicated her entire life fighting for justice.

Judges,other lawyers and the support staff at the Arusha-based judicial organ of the African Union could not easily let go the Uganda-born Bossa.

So they prepared a luncheon in the evergreen lawn at the rear side of their headquarters, overlooking a river and all were invited.

Incidentally, the event graced by salivating sumptuous meals in such places coincided with the onset of the rains; it was drizzling.

And when it came to the turn of speaking, almost everybody heaped praise on the lady justice who has spent about 20 years in Arusha high profile judicial organs.

Besides the African Court, she was also a judge with the now disbanded International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).

It was the Registrar of the African Court Robert Eno who hit the ground running, describing the distinguished Justice Bossa as warm-hearted.

“At any time we want to see you, you are available. We wish you success in your new duty station,” he said.

When it was her turn, the soft-spoken lady justice was full of excitement and almost exploded.

“Today I feel like a bride because it is easy to say welcome but difficult to say bye. I feel overwhelmed and humbled by your gesture,” she said.

She indicated she was equally happy to join the often mystified ICC for by so doing she was consolidating her fight for justice among the deprived.

“I have received a lot of encouragement from you in accepting the ICC job. Criminal justice (the mandate of ICC) is all but one aspect of human rights justice,” she said.

But Justice Bossa said ICC was not the only judicial organization that has been least supported in Africa and across the world.

“African leaders are also scared by this (African) Court. Just like the misgivings on ICC, there had been a lot of misconception on the African Court,” she said.

The African Court and ICC, however, remain different in their mandates. The former handles cases related to human rights violations.

ICC was established to handle criminal cases of international dimensions such as crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.

The Netherlands-based court falls in the same line with ICTR which was trying those who masterminded the human slaughter in Rwanda in 1994.

Despite the two courts (ICC and the African Court) being shunned by the African leaders and other leaders in other parts of the world in equal measure, Justice Bossa pleaded;

“Embrace, not fear these courts. They serve the common purpose. Crimes tried at ICC are aggravated form of human rights”, she pointed out.

“She is a highly accomplished judge with over 27 years of legal and judicial work experience at national, regional and international level”, said Sukhdev Chhatbar, the communication officer with AfCHPR.

Lady Justice Bossa who joined the African Court in June 2014 has considerable exposure with international judicial practice and human rights issues, he added.

“She is also experienced in international humanitarian law, international criminal law and constitutional law,” he said in a statement to The Citizen.