Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Next International Prosecutor dismiss claims that 'ICC witch-hunt Africans'

Gambian-born Bensouda is new ICC Prosecutor

Newly elected Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda has dispelled claims that the Court setup by a treaty focuses excessively on Africa.
"I think ICC is working for Africa and with African victims," the 50 year-old Bensouda told international media shortly after her election. "I don't think any of us can deny that the crimes, the atrocities that are happening in Africa are crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC."
Botswana President Seretse Khama agreed. "The reality is that atrocious human rights abuses and other serious crimes that merit ICC's attention have and continue to be committed in Africa, and in the majority of situations, it is Africans themselves who invite the intervention of the court," he is quoted to have told the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC.

The AU member States who are signatories to the treaty that set up the ICC, the Rome Statue, have continued to defied the Court’s arrest warrant against Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir – who have toured countries like Kenya and Chad freely. 

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was also indicted alongside his son Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. Gaddafi died before an arrest could made, however, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said during a visit to Libya that the captured Saif Al-Islam could be tried on home soil but this would involve ICC officials in the process.

Most recently, former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo became the first African leader to appear at The Hague where he was flown in November on allegations of crimes against humanity.

Fatou Bom Bensouda was elected by Member States of the ICC on Monday 12th December 2011 to serve a nine-year term beginning on June 16, 2012, a move partly meant to contradict arguments by African politicians and the African Union (AU) that the “Court  unfairly targets Africans”. She will replace the renowned Argentine Luis Moreno-Ocampo whose term expires in June next year.

She was tipped favourite in a short-list of four candidates two months ago, which included Britain's Andrew Cayley, Robert Petit of Canada and Tanzania’s Mohamed Chande Othman who withdrew from the race. Bensouda was appointed deputy prosecutor of the ICC in 2004, having previously worked as a legal adviser and trial attorney at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania.

From 1987 to 2000, she served in various positions in the Government of The Gambia, including senior state counsel, principal state counsel, deputy director of public prosecution, solicitor general and legal secretary, and Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

The ICC is mandated by parties to the Rome Statute to try cases of war-crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide which national justice systems may be unable to or refuses to prosecute. It entered into force on 1 July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.

It is the first permanent treaty-based international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. It is an independent organisation, and is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

Author: Modou S. Joof 

The author is a Gambian journalist, News Editor of The Voice Newspaper in Banjul and Publisher of The North Bank Evening Standard. 
Follow me on twitter: (@Msjoof)

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