Covid-19 could be a product of crime – Human Rights Expert, Edmund Foley

Director of Programmess at the Institute of Human Rights and Development in Africa, Edmund Foley, has said the emergence of Covid-19 in the world may have been as a result of crime.

He said evidence available about the outbreak of the virus suggests a potential wrongdoing that may have criminal implications.

In his keynote address Thursday, September 30 at the opening ceremony of a two-day training programme on International Criminal Law & Justice at GIMPA, Mr. Foley bemoaned the ravaging effects of Covid-19 on all facets of life, including criminal law and justice.

“The impact of Covid-19 on human life across the globe has been unprecedented and its tentacular spread reaches the borders of criminal law, both international and domestic”, he said.

Mr. Foley explained that the pandemic the world is battling at the moment could be a product of crime.

“Covid-19 itself may have been born in crime as evidence suggests that the virus may have emerged in a zoonotic transmission (animal to human transmission) in a wet market or illegal exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. While illegal animal trade may not have been captured in the Rome Statute, which one may argue is the clearest statement of international criminal law in our time, the tangential impact of acts such as these and others will nonetheless be considered in ultimately determining whether an international crime has been committed”, he explained.

He said international crime has also impacted the manner in which countries have responded to Covid-19, citing the examples of Yemen and Ethiopia where disturbances reportedly affected their responses to the pandemic.

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Mr. Foley however acknowledged that while Covid-19 may pose a challenge in some aspects of criminal law and justice, opportunities still exist for both lawyers and lawyer students. This, he believes requires a collective effort in finding ways of overcoming the challenges posed by the virus.

Two-day training programme

The Africa Centre of International Criminal Justice (ACICJ) has Thursday, September 30, opened a two-day training programme on International Criminal Law and Justice for law students, lawyers, judges and persons with special interest in the subject.

The programme, held at the Moot Court of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Law Faculty, is one of the many programmes the centre organises in its quest to fight impunity at the global, regional and national levels through education and the dissemination of accurate information regarding the International Criminal Law and Justice regime generally, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in particular.

Day one of the programme focuses on the history of International Criminal Law and Justice, the legal basis or justification for the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and processing a case before the ICC.

Day two will look at the role and rights of parties before the ICC, the role of victims in proceedings before the ICC and the role and contribution of the Trust Fund for families, Human Rights, Humanitarian law among others.


The Africa Centre of International Criminal Justice (ACICJ) is a Research and Advocacy Centre, dedicated to growing and developing International Criminal Law and Justice in the world generally, and in Africa in particular. The ACICJ has been at the forefront of the global fight against impunity since its establishment in May 2017. Through its many programmes and initiatives, the ACICJ has become a focal point for research, scholarship and training in International Criminal Law and Justice and the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) therein.

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By P.D Wedam||Ghana