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ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda: ‘We have miles to go before we sleep’

June 16 - 2021 THE HAGUE
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, whose nine-year term ended yesterday (Photo: ICC / Ilvy Njiokiktjien / VII)
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, whose nine-year term ended yesterday (Photo: ICC / Ilvy Njiokiktjien / VII)

The outgoing Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has celebrated the achievements of the court thus far, but cautioned that there is still much work to be done. In her valedictory statement issued to coincide with the culmination of her nine-year term that officially ended yesterday, Bensouda hailed the creation of the ICC as “one of humanity’s proudest moments… because it represents an awakening rooted in great human suffering throughout the ages, culminating in the recognition that lawless wars and conflict must no longer be allowed, without consequence, to cause human carnage.”

“It has been an absolute privilege to serve and to be on this journey together with all of you… We have come a long way together indeed, but we have miles to go before we sleep.”

Reflecting on her mandate, Bensouda says: “To be effective, to be just and to be a real deterrent, the Office of the Prosecutor’s activities and decisions must be based solely on the law and the evidence. During my tenure, I have done my utmost to live by these convictions in the service of the Rome Statute, without fear or favour.”

‘To be effective, to be just and to be a real deterrent, the Office of the Prosecutor’s activities and decisions must always be based solely on the law, without fear or favour’

Bensouda concludes by encouraging the ICC to “remain firmly principled and vigilant in the service of the Rome Statute. We must stay resilient and impervious to political games and posturing. The future and legitimacy of the court depends on it. It is as simple as that. Do not let anyone deceive themselves or you to think otherwise.”

In the past week, a number of farewell events were held in honour of the outgoing Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, whose nine-year mandate at the head of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor ended on 15 June. Bensouda served the ICC since 2004, first as Deputy Prosecutor.

‘We must stay resilient and impervious to political games and posturing. The future and legitimacy of the court depends on it’

At the various events, the Principals and staff of the court, state representatives, and a range of other distinguished attendees thanked Prosecutor Bensouda for her dedicated service to the ICC for nearly two decades. Interventions, through live remarks or video contributions, noted the accomplishments of Prosecutor Bensouda and her lasting legacy, as well as the significant challenges, which have marked her term and which she has overcome with grace, resilience, and professional integrity.

Those who delivered farewell video statements included UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, President of the ICC Judge Piotr Hofmański, and Benjamin Ferencz, former US Prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials which were held in 1946 by the allied forces in Germany after World War II for the prosecution of Nazis who participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes.

As reported by Radio Dabanga last week, Bensouda presented the 33rd report of her office on the situation in Darfur to the UNSC via video link, shortly after returning from a final visit to Darfur. During that visit, Bensouda stressed that the accused former janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, who is currently in custody and facing trial in The Hague, is “considered the first person to appear before the court for trial for crimes committed in Darfur but he will not be the last”. Bensouda reiterated that the ICC would continue to demand that the government of Sudan hand over all those wanted by the court for crimes committed in Darfur.

British lawyer Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, who was elected as the new Chief Prosecutor of the ICC in February, will be sworn-in as Prosecutor of the ICC and begin his nine-year term effective today (16 June 2021).

Read Prosecutor Bensouda’s full end-of-term statement here


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