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High Court judge Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona SC said yesterday he is “humbled and honoured” by his election as an International Criminal Court judge. Carmona, who appeared visibly emotional while expressing gratitude for the many congratulatory messages pouring in for him, said the election was something he did not even contemplate. “I never dreamt that when I wrote Common Entrance at age 11 at the Santa Flora Government Primary School that I would be sitting here and sitting in the Hague,” Carmona said, his voice breaking slightly. He was addressing attorneys, including El Farouk Hosein, in the San Fernando First Assizes prior to the start of the Amy Annamunthodo murder trial.
Hosein, as the most senior attorney at the bar table, extended congratulations to the judge. “I was not surprised,” Hosein said, as he expressed his happiness at Carmona’s elevation. At 58 Carmona was the youngest of the candidates up for election to the International court. Hosein said Carmona’s election shows “you can reach heights unanticipated by sheer hard work.” He heaped praise on former President Arthur ANR Robinson who is credited as being the father of the ICC. “He raised the idea and the world listened. It shows that small islands can make a difference. It shows the potential small islands have and once we have the talent and the self belief then it is in our capacity to make a difference,” Hosein said.
Carmona won the office in the first ballot in the Assembly of States Parties, consisting of 119 countries, with 72 votes. He placed second to Miriam Defensor Santiago, the first Filipina and Asian from a developing country to serve as ICC judge. She garnered 79 votes. Only 70 votes were needed. Voting is continuing in the United Nations for the six judicial posts on the bench. Carmona is receiving wide support with the entire Latin America and Caribbean bloc, together with the European bloc, casting ballots for him. He admitted that he had to be reserved in his comments as the Annamunthodo jury was in court. “I do not want to inflate passions and impact on the minds of this jury listening to the facts of the case. I am humbled to participate in international law. It is a very onerous responsibility,” he said.
Carmona said he has a long history with international law and while he was not adequately remunerated he was grateful for the “legal growth and experience” he acquired while working with the State. He said with the election he will be returning to a country where he worked as a United Nations prosecutor for years prosecuting appeals of persons, including generals, camp captains and politicians charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Carmona said he worked in Rwanda as an appellant counsel where “some of the greatest atrocities took place.” He said the mantra he lives by is: “Justice can only be served when you invoke the rule of law.”