Global Policy Forum

Bensouda- ICC Protecting Africans, Not Targeting Them

Following recent accusations that the ICC unfairly targets Africans, ICC deputy prosecutor Fatou Bom Bensouda issued a statement asserting that the ICC has not elected to pursue cases in Africa, rather Africans have asked the ICC to intervene. Bensouda argues that this high referral rate can “just as easily show” that African leaders are committed to upholding international law. As the ICC gains accountability, it is important not to criticize the ICC for working in one particular area but rather use the successful cases to gain more support and participation in the ICC.

July 3, 2011

Fatou Bom Bensouda, the Gambian-borned deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has rejected charges it [ICC] unfairly targets Africa, saying the victims were also Africans and that indictments were led by referrals from Africans themselves.

Bensouda is in Ivory Coast to lay the ground work for a possible investigation of war crimes relating to a violent power struggle between President Alassane Ouattara and former president Laurent Gbabgo over a disputed poll. In a joint interview with Reuters and France's TV5 in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan on Wednesday, Bensouda said the high rate of referrals in Africa could just as easily show that leaders on the continent were taking their responsibilities to international justice seriously.

Critics including African Union president Jean Ping have accused ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of double standards for so far only targeting crimes committed in Africa. "Any time, I hear this about ICC targeting Africa, ICC doing double justice (standards), it saddens me, especially as an African woman. But most of these conflicts are happening on the continent. The ICC's concentration on Africa is always as a result of the engagement of the African people with ICC" she said.

In January, the African Union backed a plan by Kenya to call for the UN Security Council to defer or suspend trials from taking place for serious crimes committed during its disputed vote at the end of 2007, in which 1,200 were killed. Kenya wants to try them in its own courts, but the ICC prosecutor argues it failed to take action for years afterwards. "We say that ICC is targeting Africans, but all of the victims in our cases in Africa are African victims. They are not from another continent. And they're the ones who are suffering these crimes," Bensouda concluded.

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