Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has stated that Africa has taken leadership in advancing international criminal justice.
Bensouda was speaking on a visit to South Africa, on the work of the ICC and how crucial the continent was to the establishment of the court.
‘‘Africa’s support was crucial to the birth of the ICC, African States continue to support ICC work,’‘ she is reported to have said.
The South African government got into a row with Bensouda’s office after failing to arrest Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the ICC over war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Bashir had attended an AU meeting in June last year in South Africa – who are a state party to the ICC – but he was allowed to fly out after summons had been issued for his arrest. A court ruled that the government was wrong to have allowed Bashir to leave.
She also touched on the importance of the media in advancing the work of the ICC. According to her, the media played a crucial rôle in raising awareness about the court’s work.
Her most recent victory was a case regarding the Malian rebel who was jailed for destroying heritage sites in Timbuktu. She also successfully prosecuted the case of former Democratic Republic of Congo vice president, Jean Pierre Bemba.
She is also prosecuting war crimes charges against former Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo. Her court however failed to successfully prosecute Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in a case of inciting violence after the country’s last elections.
Fatou Bensouda, from Gambia was elected by consensus as Prosecutor of the ICC the Assembly of States Parties and sworn in on June 15, 2012. In addition, there are four African judges and the Minister of Justice of Senegal, Sidiki Kaba, is the President for the thirteenth to sixteenth sessions (2014-2017).