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.
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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs