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ICC deputy prosecutor to be recommended as next chief prosecutor

Fatou Bensouda [official profile] of the Gambia, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], will be formally recommended Thursday to succeed Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] when his nine-year term expires next year. Liechtenstein's UN Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, current president of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, announced Wednesday that he will recommend Bensouda as the sole candidate [Reuters report] for the position, an endorsement to be made at a meeting of ICC members at which member states are required to reach an informal consensus on one candidate. That candidate then must receive an absolute majority of the formal vote via secret ballot at a session of the 118-nation ASP on December 12 in New York. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website], which called for full transparency in the selection process, noted that the Rome Statute sets out clear criteria for electing a Prosecutor [press release], who "must be of high moral character and have extensive practical experience in the prosecution or trial of criminal cases." 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. If formally selected she 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.

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