Crime & Justice

Outgoing ICC chief prosecutor Bensouda leaves 9-year legacy of highs, lows

By David Morales Urbaneja

The Hague, Jun 15 (EFE).- International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will leave office Tuesday after a roller-coaster 9 years of service.

Her tenure brought about the first convictions for sexual violence and for the destruction of protected cultural heritage, but is also stained by the acquittal of high-ranked African officials charged with crimes against humanity.

The Gambian lawyer took oath in June 2012, after serving as deputy prosecutor under Luis Moreno Ocampo, who was criticized for his excessive focus on the African continent.

Bensouda extended the ICC’s reach, launching investigations on accusations against US troops in Afghanistan, alleged crimes by the Russian army in Georgia, and reported violations of international law by Israel and Hamas in Palestine.

None of these inquiries have translated into any charges or arrest warrants so far, partly due to a lack of cooperation from the countries under investigation.

Amongst the highlights of Bensouda’s mandate is a pivot towards prosecuting sexual and gender based violence, which were not getting enough attention from the international community despite their frequency, as she told Efe during a recent interview.

Her administration released in 2014 a public strategy to charge suspects of sexual crimes when supporting evidence is available.

“We had to undergo training constantly again and again,” said Bensouda. “That training concerned everybody who was dealing with investigations and prosecutions.”

The theory became a reality when the ICC convicted former soldier Bosco Ntaganda, who allowed his men to sexually abuse minors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as former Ugandan guerilla group chief Dominic Ongwen on counts of forced marriage and sexual slavery.

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