News / Africa

Gambian Woman Sworn In as Criminal Court's Chief Prosecutor

Newly sworn-in ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda shares a laugh with her predecessor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (L) at the ICC, The Hague, Netherlands, June 15, 2012.
Newly sworn-in ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda shares a laugh with her predecessor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (L) at the ICC, The Hague, Netherlands, June 15, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Bryant
PARIS - Gambia's Fatou Bensouda was sworn in Friday as the International Criminal Court's new chief prosecutor, becoming the first African and woman to preside over the Hague-based tribunal.  Bensouda has rejected criticism of double standards in the ICC's prosecutions that have so far only targeted Africa.

Fifty-one-year-old Bensouda becomes only the second chief prosecutor of the nine-year-old International Criminal Court (ICC).  She takes over from Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, after serving as his number two for years.

In interviews, Bensouda has promised continuity - a continuity that human rights expert Anthony Dworkin, of the European Council on Foreign Relations, says the young court badly needs.

High Profile ICC Cases

  • Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir faces 10 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is free and in power.
  • Lord's Resistance Army commander Joseph Kony faces 33 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. His whereabouts are unknown.
  • Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo faces four counts of crimes against humanity. He is in ICC custody awaiting trial.
  • Son of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, faces two counts of crimes against humanity. He has been arrested.
"There have been some controversies about the way it (the ICC) has developed in the last few years, and I think the most important thing now is to let it settle down and to approach the job in a professional way - and we can expect her to do that," said Dworkin.

The Netherlands-based ICC is the world's first permanent body that tries individuals accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.  But so far, all its cases deal with Africa.  That has generated criticism that the court is biased - criticism that both Bensouda and predecessor Ocampo reject.

"People have already answered that (the criticisms) quite effectively by saying it's working on behalf of victims in Africa, that most of these cases were in any case referred by the countries themselves, and so on," said Dworkin.  "But nevertheless, I think from a symbolic standpoint that an African chief prosecutor will send a very clear message that this is a court which works for universal justice and universal values."  

A longtime lawyer, Bensouda served as Gambia's attorney general and justice minister, and worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Her appointment comes as the ICC tries its first former head of state - Ivory Coast's former president, Laurent Gbagbo.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: charlotte rossette from: kampala
June 22, 2012 9:40 AM
if she could only live to her promises


by: Manuel from: London
June 18, 2012 3:52 PM
i cant wait to see former nigeria military head of state tried, Gowon for his crime against humanity and the people of biafra.


by: chris from: juba s sudan
June 16, 2012 7:27 AM
to me icc was only made for african. y there is no leader from the west.taik of george bush a bout irang he si free after

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid