Four candidates named as potential successors to ICC prosecutor

Four candidates named as potential successors to ICC prosecutor

Photo source or description

[JURIST] Four candidates were named Tuesday as potential successors to International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] when his nine-year term expires next year. The Search Committee for the position of the Prosecutor of the ICC [official website] submitted [Reuters report] its consensus report [report with annexes, PDF] to the Bureau of the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) with the shortlist of four names after interviewing eight candidates from a list of 52 potentials. Fatou Bensouda [official profile] of the Gambia, Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC since 2004, tops the list and has long been considered the favorite to succeed Moreno-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. The other African native on the list is Mohamed Chande Othman of Tanzania, currently Chief Justice of the Judiciary of Tanzania [official website]. Also on the list are 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. The consensus report notes:

In commending this shortlist, the Search Committee does not differentiate between the candidates in terms of suitability or make any preferential recommendation concerning any candidate. … [T]he Search Committee considers its function to be that of a technical committee of the Bureau, to assist the Bureau and the ASP in their endeavours to secure the election of the Prosecutor by consensus [as required by ICC/ASP resolution]. In the light of the Search Committee’s Report, it will properly be a matter for the Bureau and the ASP to consider how best to proceed to secure the formal nomination and election by consensus of the next Prosecutor.

ICC member states must now try to reach an informal consensus on one candidate, who then must receive an absolute majority of the formal vote via secret ballot at an ASP meeting in December in New York. The new prosecutor will take office in July 2012.

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] has called for full transparency in the selection process and notes that the Rome Statute which established the ICC 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.” A successful candidate must also “have a proven history of performing professional duties impartially and independently” and have other relevant experience such as a background in prosecuting crimes under international law and expertise in specific issues, such as violence against women and children. As Prosecutor, Argentinian Moreno-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 Omar al-Bashir and other military leaders wanted for human rights violations. However he has also been criticized due to 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. This month Moreno-Ocampo visited the Ivory Coast in response to allegations of war crimes committed during post-election violence in the country last November, and the prosecutor subsequently singled out individuals [JURIST reports] for the ICC to investigate. In June Moreno-Ocampo made worldwide headlines by presenting to the ICC sufficient evidence to procure arrest warrants [JURIST report] for deposed Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and two of his high-ranking officials, including Gaddafi’s son.