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Gambian Fatou Bensouda to Be Confirmed ICC Chief Prosecutor

President of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal court, Ambassador Christian Wenaweser (file photo)

The president of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says Fatou Bensouda of Gambia will be officially confirmed as the court’s chief prosecutor on December 12.

Ambassador Christian Wenaweser says there was consensus among members of the State Parties to the Rome Statute which effectively named Bensouda the sole candidate to become the ICC’s next chief prosecutor.

Several months ago, the state parties established a search committee charged with looking for competent candidates suitable for chief prosecutor. The committee presented a list from which a final four were designated for consideration.

“We embarked on a process trying to find a consensus on one of the names [as to whom] will be the next prosecutor,” said Wenaweser. “We have been successful, in that today the state parties have agreed informally to have Fatou Bensouda from the Gambia as the sole candidate for the position of the chief prosecutor.”

Ms. Bensouda takes over from Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who completes a nine year term as chief prosecutor of the Hague-based court. She is currently the court’s deputy chief prosecutor.

Ambassador Wenaweser said with regard to competence, Bensouda is deemed to “have what it takes” to become the next chief prosecutor of the ICC.

Critics have often accused the ICC of targeting only African leaders in its crusade against human rights violations and crimes against humanity. The list includes former Liberia President Charles Taylor, Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir and former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.

Observers say a chief prosecutor from Africa could inoculate the ICC from criticisms that it only targets leaders from the continent.

Ambassador Wenaweser expressed support for Bensouda as chief prosecutor.

“I think it is very good to have somebody from the African region,” said Wenaweser. “Africa is the strongest constituency in the ICC, the largest number of state parties do come from [there]. And we have a lot of qualified judges from Africa so I think it is very welcome to have a prosecutor from Africa.

He reiterated that the election of Bensouda is “strictly based on the merits, on her professional qualifications.”

“[We] generally agree that Fatou Bensouda does have what it takes to be the next chief prosecutor,” said Wenaweser. “We have gone through a very meticulous and lengthy process. She is well known and she is one of the most [respected] in the area of international criminal justice. Her credentials persuaded state parties that she is the best person for the job.”