Fatou Bensouda [official profile] of the Gambia, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] was officially chosen Monday to succeed Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] when his nine-year term expires next year. Liechtenstein's UN Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, outgoing president of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, announced last month that he would recommend Bensouda as the sole candidate [JURIST report] for the position. Bensouda was elected by the ASP Monday as they met for their Tenth Session [materials]. In prepared remarks to the ASP, Bensouda said:
In Rome in 1998, representatives from civil society and from States with different legal traditions debated the creation of the Rome Statute from different perspectives, but all knew that the new legal design would profoundly impact the way international relations are governed. It is impacting other institutions and indeed, as Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo said, changing international relations forever. As the next Prosecutor, I hope to contribute to solidifying this change, remaining committed to the goals of the Court and the legal mandate entrusted to the Prosecutor to end impunity for those responsible for the gravest offenses, bringing justice to their victims, and preventing future crimes.Bensouda has been Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC since 2004, and has long been considered the favorite to succeed Ocampo, as many of the ICC's cases currently focus on Africa. Additionally, Bensouda has the backing of the African Union [official website], the support of which has been critical to the ICC. Bensouda will take office in July 2012.
In October the Search Committee for the position of the Prosecutor of the ICC [official website] submitted [JURIST report] its consensus report to the Bureau of the ASP with the shortlist of four names after interviewing eight candidates from a list of 52 potentials. There was one other African on the list, Mohamed Chande Othman of Tanzania, currently Chief Justice of the Judiciary of Tanzania [official website]. Also on the list were Andrew Cayley [official profile] of the UK, International Co-Prosecutor at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and Robert Petit of Canada, Counsel, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes [official website] Section of Canada's Department of Justice. As its first Prosecutor, Argentinian Ocampo has been widely praised for his promotion of the work of the ICC. During his tenure he has launched seven formal investigations, begun three trials and issued arrest warrants for Sudanese president [JURIST reports] Omar al-Bashir [case materials; JURIST news archive] and other military leaders wanted for human rights violations. However Ocampo has also been criticized [JURIST report] for the ICC's slow progress in achieving results, particularly in failing to bring a larger number of senior government officials to trial for various atrocities.