News / Africa

    New ICC Chief Prosecutor Discusses Work of Tribunal

    Fatou Bensouda is chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC)             Fatou Bensouda is chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC)
    x
    Fatou Bensouda is chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC)
    Fatou Bensouda is chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC)
    Peter Clottey
    The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says she rejects any suggestion that the tribunal has unfairly targeted African countries.

    Fatou Bensouda, who became chief prosecutor last June after eight years as deputy chief prosecutor, said in an interview it will take a lot of work to correct suspicions of bias against Africa.

    “Changing this perception of course will not depend solely on myself, it will depend on other actors, it will depend on the organs of the court, it will depend on states, parties [and] it will depend on international partners. But, I do intend to play my part,” said Bensouda, a native of Gambia.

    She blamed accused persons who have committed international crimes for spreading allegations that the ICC targets Africans.

     “I think what we need to do here is to move the focus away from those who perpetuate these crimes. They perpetuate these crimes and they send this propaganda that ICC is targeting Africa, and by so doing, the focus that we should have on the victims of their crimes is moved away,” Bensouda said.

    “The ICC is working with Africa and in fact Africa has been coming towards the ICC from the time of establishing this court from the very beginning. In fact this idea that Africa is being targeted was demystified, by the recent referral we received from Mali.”

    In July, Mali’s minister of justice, Malick Coulibaly, led a delegation to The Hague to request officially that the ICC to investigate crimes allegedly committed by Islamists in the West African country’s north. The request cited international crimes which include summary executions of soldiers, rape of women and young girls, massacres of civilians, the use of child soldiers and pillage.

    So far 33 African countries have ratified the Rome Statutes that established the ICC. They contribute financially to the operations of the court.

    “Individual African countries have been cooperating very well with the ICC. We hardly have a request for assistance going out to African countries that does not meet with a positive response,” Bensouda said.

                        US and international justice

    The Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for Rule of Law and Detainee Policy says Washington is playing a lead role in ensuring that those who commit international crimes face justice.

    “We play a very similar role to [the one] we’ve played throughout recent history, and that’s a leadership role, in making sure that we don’t live in a society where criminals can continue with their behavior with impunity. But, it’s one that also makes sure that when we bring them to justice, we do it in a way that elevates the rule of law,” said William Lietzau.

    Lietzau rejects allegations that the United States is not fully committed to the work of the Hague-based International Criminal Court. The United States is not a signatory of the Rome Statute that established the ICC.

    Some experts on the ICC have said Washington’s refusal to sign weakens the power of the court. But, Lietzau disagrees.

    “I don’t think that is an appropriate criticism of our role with respect to international criminal justice in general,” he said.

    “The questions the United States has about the ICC are related to the structure of the court and the formulation that was chosen in the Rome treaty. That does not mean we have any lesser commitment to justice or the rule of law.”

    Lietzau said the U.S. works with the ICC to help the Hague-based court carryout its mandate in a way that respects the rule of law.

    “The ICC’s work of brining wrongdoers to justice is something that we are very much committed to and we will continue to support that work as we do with other tribunals. I don’t think there is any country that has invested as much in international criminal justice as the United States,” he said.

    Lietzau also spoke about organizational links between the ICC and the U.N. Security Council, which can ask the tribunal to prosecute certain international crimes.

    “There are legitimate questions as to various aspects of the courts structure and role among other international organizations,” he said. “We don’t want to see the International Criminal Court used for purposes of promoting a political agenda. But, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that criminals are not allowed to commit grievous international with impunity.” 

                        Heads of state immunity

    The chief prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) says heads of state should not be immune from criminal prosecution if they commit international crimes.

    Brenda Hollis says current international law now stipulates that national leaders have immunity from prosecution unless they are charged by an international court with crimes against humanity.

    “I think that the law has evolved at a point that if it’s an international crime and an international court then that head of state would not have immunity. Regardless of whether he was a sitting head of state at the time he was charged and tried or he was a former head of state,” said Hollis.

    Critics have said the International Criminal Court (ICC) has often targeted mostly Africans. One example sometimes cited was the court’s arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The government of Sudan has rejected the charges.

    But, in an interview, Hollis denies accusations that Africans are being targeted by the ICC.                  

    Sudan is not a signatory of the Rome Statute that established the ICC. But despite this, the U.N. Security Council can still refer a case to the chief prosecutor of the ICC to investigate alleged international crimes involving Sudan.

    The Security Council’s referral about the situation in Sudan’s Darfur region, where thousands have died, led to the ICC investigation and the subsequent indictment of Mr. Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Hollis expressed her views about Security Council referrals and their impact on claims of immunity by government leaders.

    “That referral imbues the International Criminal Court for that case with the authority and with the consent of members of the United Nations because when the United Nations Security Council refers that case to the ICC, it is acting on behalf of all member states of the United Nations,” Hollis continued.

    “For those heads of state who are members of the United Nations that would be, in my view, an implicit waiver of immunity, by virtue of their membership of the United Nations. I think that is the current state of the law.”

                        Crime of Aggression

    Liechtenstein’s top diplomat to the United Nations says he is working with African countries to ratify an amendment on so-called crimes of aggression. The amendment gives the ICC authority to investigate and prosecute such crimes. It was approved by a Review Conference of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2010.

    Legal experts describe the amendment as a breakthrough in the development of international criminal law. Thirty states must ratify the amendment for it to come into force. So far, only two have signed.

    “We are working with our African partners, and we are organizing next year a workshop in Botswana with the Botswana government to which African states would be invited,” said Ambassador Christian Wenaweser.

    “We would simply explain the outcome of the Kampala agreement. We’d explain the legal challenges, [and the] ways of ratifying and implementing it. We hope that this will push the effort forward.”          
                               
    Officials say for the first time since the Nuremberg and Tokyo military tribunals following World War II, the there is a possibility that individual leaders who plan and launch military aggression against other countries will be subject to prosecution by an international court.

    Ambassador Wenaweser said he is hopeful that African countries will soon ratify the amendment on the crime of aggression so it can be implemented.

    He expressed concerns, however, that some leaders are not aware that they can take action today.

    “A lot of people misunderstand [and believe] that it’s not possible to ratify now; [that you can only do so] in 2017, when in fact the opposite is true. You have to ratify it now in order for it to enter into force in 2017,” said Wenaweser.

    Proponents of the amendment say the campaign has been hindered by a lack of support from powerful nations. Wenaweser said he will continue to push for its passage.

    He also outlined his expectations for next year’s workshop in Botswana on the amendment.

    “I hope we have a very good turnout of African states and [that] we will be able to reach [out to] people in ministries who are in charge of this.  We will tell them this is how you can do it, this is how you can move forward, and they will see what their peers are doing,” said Wenaweser.

                        ICC Challenges

    The president of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute says she is working to restore political support for the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    “Yes, there are concerns that there is less political enthusiasm about the court right now, and one of the reasons is quite obvious. The court is 10 years old so a lot of countries who in principle are very committed, they just take the court for granted. A lot of countries do not realize how much political support the court still needs,”  said Ambassador Tiina Intelmann.

    “They are forgetting that we are really in the business of trying to bring perpetrators of atrocities to justice. And it just so happens that very often the perpetrators of such crimes are people who have held or are holding high positions [in government]. So, by definition, political support is necessary because these issues, besides being legal, are also political.” 

    Her comments follow at a two-day conference in Nuremberg, Germany as part of activities to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the ICC.

    Some members of the African Union (AU) have expressed concern that the international court appears to be unfairly targeting Africans. This led to the AU’s decision to advise its members not to cooperate with the Hague-based court following the refusal of the ICC to suspend its indictment and subsequent arrest warrants against Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.

    The court accused the Sudanese leader of committing human rights abuses and crimes against humanity in Darfur - charges Khartoum has rejected. Analysts say tension between the AU and the ICC has reduced political support for the court in Africa.

    Officials of the ICC say the court faces financial challenges that need to be addressed if the court is to continue prosecutions for international crimes.

    “Yes, the court faces financial challenges, not least because its workload is increasing and that is the problem,” says Intelmann. “Ideally, the court should be the last resort that is there, that serves as a deterrent, and that encourages states to do their domestic prosecutions. But it’s mostly the failure of states themselves to prosecute that brings all these cases to the ICC.”

    “There is a reasonable understanding right now about the budget that the court would have. It’s also clear that at no point in time will the court have an unlimited budget,” Intelmann said, noting that signatory nations to the court are obligated to fund its core activities.
    Clottey interview with ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda
    Clottey interview with ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensoudai
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X


    Clottey interview with Ambassador Christian Wenaweser
    Clottey interview with Ambassador Christian Wenaweseri
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X


    Clottey interview with Ambassador Tiina Intelmann
    Clottey interview with Ambassador Tiina Intelmanni
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yg tan from: Singapore
    October 21, 2012 9:12 PM
    On what ground does the US has the morality to speak for ICC when your country is the ONLY country that goes destroying, invading, killing and so on, all over ther world.

    Just be a signatory to ICC and see the outcome!

    Too much brutality has been committed by the US and its allies and yet the ICC remains idle doing nothing - thats why no body can wholeheartedly support the ICC

    Personally, I agree with most African nations' view of ICC

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora