ICC quota for Botswana vacant, says Justice Monageng

Botswana international export to the International Criminal Court Justice Sanji Monageng has revealed that the country's quota at the international court is still vacant. Justice Monageng was speaking yesterday in Gaborone at a panel discussion entitled: "Calling female lawyers campaign".

Monageng was in Botswana on official duty geared towards exchanging ideas on issues relating to African women lawyers generally in the international criminal system sphere, in particular, at the ICC. Her nine-year contract to the ICC began last year.

Monageng said as an elected official, she is not considered a staff member of the ICC. She stressed that there is no other Botswana national in the employ of ICC. Monageng warned that it is however competitive because only the best, like in any other employment are selected.

Monageng said as one of the 18 judges of the ICC, "I am looking forward to your ideas and contributions as to how the court, through its Outreach programme, could assist women lawyers."

She commended Law Society of Botswana for its support to the ICC campaign to attract female lawyers to apply to be admitted to the ICC list of counsel and list of Assistants to Counsel.

She expressed concern that out of the 344 Counsel that are admitted to practise before the ICC currently only 63 are women, "and out of these only 14 are African. Of course none of these is Botswana based", Monageng said.

Monageng further stressed that the need for African lawyers is that all the cases and situations presently at the ICC are from Africa and as a result, "the continent is where the court has been operating and continues to operate from."

Monageng continued: "It is also pertinent to note that, it appears that the ratio between male and female lawyers authorised to practise before the ICC is not so much different in many European countries." She added that it is a fact that in all spheres of life, decision-making processes and in particular in all areas of law, women are either conspicuously absent or grossly underrepresented. 

 "In Botswana for instance, my home country, no woman has ever sat as a judge in the Court of Appeal, the Highest Court in the land. We had only three female judges in the High Court in our history and two of them have left the bench", Monageng said.

Monageng pointed out that the last time she checked, the Law Society had in their books about 61 women and 198 male practitioners.  "I believe that the situation is no different in other parts of the world. What is clear is that the gender imbalances regarding participation of women lawyers at the ICC, is a reflection of similar imbalances in the representation of women in the legal profession at national, sub regional and regional levels", Monageng said.

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