Mrs. Fatou Bensouda of Gambia is slated to takeover as chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC). She will follow Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
ICC’s chief prosecutor-elect, Bensouda, warns perpetrators of impunities, others
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 00:00
Editor, Nigerian Guardian
Note: The ICC is commonly known in Africa and around the world as the African Criminal Court since it only persecutes people from the continent. The institution is dreaded in Africa and throughout the Diaspora. Placing an African woman as its leader represents the insidious nature of its political character. The ICC has been a willing tool of US and European imperialism.
The so-called impunity spoken about in this article drawfs the blatant genocidal crimes committed by imperialism throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific and within oppressed communities inside North America among African Americans, Native Americans and Latino/as.
PERPETRATORS of impunity and atrocious crimes in Africa and beyond will continue to be targetted by the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The incoming prosecutor of the court, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, made this known after being elected on Monday afternoon at the United Nations head offices in New York.
Bensouda, 50, will succeed the high-profile Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, whose term of office expires next June. She is currently his deputy.
She was elected without a vote at a meeting in the United Nations of the 120-nation Assembly of States Parties to the ICC, which is based at The Hague in the Netherlands. She will serve a nine-year term starting June 16.
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has told the Security Council that Syria should be referred to the ICC over its crackdown on anti-government protests.
Also, the ICC has referred Malawi to the United Nations (UN) Security Council for refusing to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.
Malawi hosted Bashir in October in defiance of an ICC arrest warrant for him on charges of genocide in Darfur.
However, Bensouda – a former Gambian Justice Minister – has made it clear that she would maintain the bite of the ICC against atrocities wherever it may be found.
“We should not think of it as targeting leaders,” as has been claimed in some African political quarters, Bensouda declared.
“We will target the perpetrators of the crimes and continue to work with victims, in Africa or outside Africa.... My origin, being African, has nothing to do with my mandate as Prosecutor of the ICC,” she said.
According to her, “Africa has taken the leadership on international criminal justice, which must be recognised,” claiming that the first three cases of the court were referred to ICC by African State parties to the Rome Statute.
Besides, when the Security Council referred cases to the court, Africans on the Council voted in support of such an action. She mentioned the two Security Council referrals, of Sudan and Libya, where African countries on the Security Council including Nigeria were in support of the Court’s intervention.
“The ICC is working for Africa and with African victims,” she said. “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. We have only moved based on the legal limits that we have under the Rome Statute.”
Concerning Côte d’Ivoire which had also requested ICC intervention, the new ICC prosecutor observed that the case against former President Laurent Gbagbo may turn out to be her first assignment as prosecutor since the case may be due just about the time she would take office fully as ICC prosecutor in June next year.
But on Syria, Pillay said she felt widespread killings and torture in the country “constituted crimes against humanity”.
But Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the West of an “immoral” stance on Syria, saying it should condemn the opposition as well as security forces.
Lavrov said opposition groups were trying to provoke a “humanitarian catastrophe” to get foreign help.
The comments came after UN human rights chief told the Security Council Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court over its crackdown on the nine-month uprising.
She said 5,000 people had been killed.
In October, Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning Syria.
The draft, introduced by France and the UK, was supported by other Western countries.
However, the human rights chief put the number of those killed by security forces in the nine-month uprising at more than 5,000.
But Syria’s UN envoy said Pillay was “not objective” and “not fair”.
Pillay told a closed session of the Security Council that 300 children had been among those killed since the start of the uprising in March.
She also said 14,000 people were believed to have been arrested, and 12,400 had fled to neighbouring countries.
“It is based on the evidence and the widespread and systematic nature of the killings, the detentions and the acts of torture that I felt that these acts constituted crimes against humanity and I recommended that there should be a referral to the International Criminal Court,” Pillay said.
She said her estimate of more than 5,000 deaths did not include security forces. The Syrian government has said more than 1,000 of its police and troops have been killed.
The Syrian ambassador at the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said Pillay had “allowed herself to be misused in misleading the public opinion by providing information based on allegations collected from 233 defectors”.