Gambia's Fatou Bensouda took over from her former boss Luis Moreno-Ocampo as the new International Criminal Court prosecutor yesterday, vowing to resist pressure from suspects. "I Fatou Bensouda, solemnly undertake that I will perform my duties and exercise my powers as prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, honourably, faithfully impartially and conscientiously," she said at a brief ceremony in The Hague.
"First and foremost, my thoughts are with our four colleagues currently detained in Libya," Bensouda said in reference to the ICC staff currently detained in the North African state. "In serving justice, we should not be swayed by the propaganda of the few criminals but the millions.
Bensouda, who took the oath of office yesterday, specifically said she will be carrying on with the seven situations, 14 cases two of which are Kenya's post election violence cases and a further seven preliminary investigations that Ocampo had initiated.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former head of public service Francis Muthaura, Eldoret North MP William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang are facing trial for crimes they allegedly committed after the 2007 general election. She acknowledged the support of the African Union to her candidacy, stating that it was a sign that the African state parties were committed to ending impunity.
The AU and ICC have not enjoyed cordial ties for sometime now, with the former accuser the prosecutor of targeting only Africans. But Bensouda said she will be a prosecutor for all the 121 state parties and that she will be guided by the Rome Statute that established the ICC.
"I am humbled by the privileged responsibility that the state parties have bestowed on me. I am also thankful to the African Union for supporting my candidature which shows that they are committed to fighting impunity," she said, during the brief ceremony inside the chamber. The Office of the Prosecutor, she added, will continue to work with other partners namely other offices of ICC, rights groups and the state parties.
The swearing in was presided over by Judge Sang-Hyun Song of the Republic of Korea who is the president of ICC and overseen by the president of the assembly of state parties Ambassador Tiina Intelmann of Estonia. Before her election as ICC prosecutor, Bensouda served as Ocampo's deputy at the court. In his nine-year term, Ocampo managed to get a single verdict.